Newspaper headlines: Steel future, Ronnie Corbett, Zaha Hadid, April Fool

The future of the British steel industry and the death of entertainer Ronnie Corbett make the front pages.

The Times says Tata warned a Commons committee only weeks ago that UK support for Chinese steel could result in an "even greater crisis".

Tata has said it plans to sell its UK business, plunging the British steel industry into turmoil.

"Senior Tata officials are said to be amazed at the prime minister's failure to heed their warnings that China would dump cheap steel on the market, undercutting Britain," says the Times.

"EU officials are also privately critical of Britain over its reluctance to raise tariffs for China, which it has been wooing to try to generate better trade links."

The Telegraph reports that David Cameron called into question the future of the British steel industry by saying there was "no guarantee" the government could save Tata's UK plants.

"It came as Sajid Javid, the Business Secretary, faced intense criticism from Labour after it emerged that he took his daughter with him on a trip to Australia while the country's steel industry was in crisis," the Telegraph continues.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Business Secretary Sajid Javid is heading for Port Talbot

The Guardian reports that Mr Javid will travel to the Port Talbot steelworks, the UK's biggest, to try to reassure its 4,000 workers about their jobs.

The paper says: "It is understood senior Whitehall officials have contacted Liberty House, a steels and metals group with an annual turnover of close to £5bn, which is in the process of buying unwanted sites in Scotland.

"Private equity companies, which would be likely to undertake radical cost-cutting steps, are also being approached."

European Steel Association chief Axel Eggert tells the Financial Times that the UK was the "ringleader" in preventing a European Commission proposal on the "modernisation of Europe's trade defence instruments".

The FT says: "The government has already been accused of currying favour with China and has argued that Beijing should be recognised as a market economy within the World Trade Organisation this summer.

"British officials point out that cheaper steel has benefited other manufacturers, such as the car industry."


'Slow-motion implosion'

Sky News economics editor Ed Conway writes in the Times that the steel industry is bucking the trend of weak productivity in the British economy.

"Perhaps this is what makes its slow-motion implosion so traumatic: it is hardly as if the industry is torpid," he says.

"In Britain and most of the developed world it is hard to find another example of a slimmer, more efficient business."

The Telegraph's Fraser Nelson says that although it might not be much comfort, the steelworkers of Port Talbot can at least be confident that their fate is being treated as a national emergency.

"Sajid Javid, the Business Secretary, has been summoned back from Australia for crisis talks," he writes. "David Cameron is mulling direct intervention to save Tata's giant plant.

"Some 1,000 jobs are at stake, most in a part of Wales unlikely to recover easily from such setbacks. To hear Tories even discussing nationalisation gives an idea of the scale of the panic."

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Media captionTimes media editor Beth Rigby and James Rampton, feature writer for the i, join the BBC News Channel to review Friday's front pages.

Martin Kettle in the Guardian argues that industrial policy can no longer be treated as a relic of the 20th Century.

He says: "The answer to the Tata Steel sell-off is not nationalisation, at least as it is traditionally understood, but state action. This is not a semantic difference. Permanent nationalisation wouldn't work and it won't happen.

"State action, on the other hand, covers everything from temporary nationalisation of the Tata assets to keep the plants functioning, to loans and guarantees, to aid on business rates, energy costs and end-user contract stipulations."

Mark Steel in the i says: "Some people have pointed out that other industries were bailed out by governments in the past - but this has only been if they've produced essentials goods, such as hedge funds and executive bonuses, not frivolities like the stuff that makes ships and teaspoons."


Ronnie Corbett remembered

"...and it's goodnight from him". That is the catchphrase from The Two Ronnies that many of the papers employ to mark the death of Ronnie Corbett.

Describing him as one of the nation's best-loved entertainers, the Telegraph says Corbett was to have been knighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours List after a discreet campaign led by his fellow comedian David Walliams.

Comedian Miranda Hart writes in appreciation: "As our beloved Ronnie Corbett was on prime-time television in the late-70s and 80s, regaling us with his trademark jokes on being small ('I'm so short, I'm the only citizen in the UK with a full-length photo in their passport!'), I was growing up.

"And some of my happiest memories of growing up were watching The Two Ronnies with the family. Even if I didn't quite get a joke I would continue to chortle away watching my dad in an uncontrollable state as tears of laughter poured down his face.

"What a gift Ronnie gave me, my family and a nation."

The Telegraph comments that Corbett deserved to be knighted given his service to the entertainment industry and his dedication to charity work, particularly his fundraising golf events.

Image caption Ronnie Corbett, one half of the Two Ronnies

In the Guardian, Mark Lawson reflects on the career of Corbett.

"Nobody who was part of another TV duo in the era of Morecambe and Wise can be remembered as the very best of their profession," he writes.

"But Barker and Corbett ran their rivals very close as a pair and, individually, outstripped them. And that, as Ronnie Corbett was happy to acknowledge towards the end of his life, marked a career and a life well-lived."

The Mail comments: "Honours are conferred on countless cronies and less worthy celebrities. That he never became Sir Ronnie is a terrible indictment of our hopelessly corrupted system."

In an opinion piece, the Express says: "The diminutive comedian spent decades making us laugh, in the process becoming one of the nation's most treasured performers.

"He may be gone, but we will be chuckling over his jokes for years."

The Sun says Britain has got a little less funny, while the Mirror says he will be remembered with a smile on our lips.


'Queen of the curve'

The papers also report the death of renowned architect Dame Zaha Hadid at the age of 65.

"Born in Iraq, Hadid enjoyed as much success abroad as she did in Britain, but was especially proud of the London Aquatics Centre for the 2012 Olympics," says the Times.

The Telegraph describes her as a gravity-defying visionary who revelled in the spectacular and controversial.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Zaha Hadid designed the London Aquatics Centre for the 2012 Olympics

Oliver Wainwright in the Guardian writes: "Over her 30-year career, the maverick architect Zaha Hadid developed a style more recognisable, and more imitated, than any of her contemporaries, transforming what began as a world of dreamy abstract paintings into a global brand for daring art galleries and experimental opera houses that now dot the globe from Baku to Guangzhou.

"An unparalleled queen of the curve and conjuror of sinuous, billowing forms, in her best buildings the laws of physics appear momentarily suspended.

"Walls melt into floors, ceilings ripple and bulge, facades dissolve into perforated skins and flowing veils.

"To admire her genius, you had to forgive her shortcomings. The world of architecture would certainly have been duller without her."


Fool time

Finally, on April 1st, no one should be fooled by the Telegraph's front page story about England being kicked out of the Euro 2016 football championship if the UK votes to leave the European Union.

The paper claims that England's hopes of winning the tournament were thrown into "turmoil" after joint French and German objections. Wales and Northern Ireland would be affected, too.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Could the European referendum really ruin the Jamie Vardy party?

The paper quotes former Germany midfielder "Jurgen Loos" as saying: "Solidarity is a core principle in Europe, and this is true in the great game of football no less than trade or politics.

"If Britain leaves, then we should be clear: out means out."

And the author of the piece? Rollo Piaf.