BBC News

Newspaper headlines: Vote Leave migrant points pledge, Liam Fee murder and Carla Lane tributes

By Alex Kleiderman
BBC News


The EU referendum campaign stays on the front pages with coverage focusing on a pledge by Vote Leave to push for a points-based system to control immigration if Britain opts to exit the EU.

Brexit campaigners, reports the Daily Mail, say their plans would pave the way for an "immigration revolution" and slash numbers arriving from the EU to meet the Tory promise to cut net migration to below 100,000.

The Daily Telegraph says the joint declaration signed by Justice Secretary Michael Gove, former London Mayor Boris Johnson and Employment Minister Priti Patel, details an Australian-style system for migrants with needed skills - but represents a major challenge to David Cameron's authority.

It will be seen as the first policy of a Eurosceptic manifesto and bolster claims by critics of the prime minister that he cannot remain in power until 2020 in the event of a Leave vote, says the paper.

The Remain campaign has said the proposal would "wreck" the UK economy.

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And the Times says in committing to the system, and a three-year timetable for its implementation, the Brexit campaign "risks opening itself to attack on two fronts".

The paper explains Vote Leave appears to be committing itself to rapid negotiations with the rest of the EU - it had previously talked about delaying exit talks to put an alternative trade system in place. And Migration Watch UK, which campaigns for stricter immigration controls, has dismissed the Australian system as unsuitable for the UK.

In a leading article, the Sun says the Leave lobby's plan is far from perfect and may spark a race by EU migrants to meet a free-movement deadline. But "even a flawed system beats one in which limitless numbers from Europe, regardless of skills take precedence over more able migrants from outside it".

Among the other referendum stories:

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'Sitcom queen'

Tributes are paid to Carla Lane, the writer of television hits such as Bread and The Liver Birds, who has died at the age of 87.

The Daily Telegraph, describes Lane, who passed away in a nursing home in her home city of Liverpool, as the "quick-witted queen of the sitcom".

While Lane's later work received a frosty critical reception, her influence can still be felt, writes the Telegraph's television critic Ben Lawrence.

"Lane was hardly queen of the belly laugh, but she did something equally fundamental - teaching us to recognise humour in human failure," he adds.

In the Daily Mail, Christopher Stevens says Lane was an outspoken writer who smashed the boundaries of what women were supposed to say on screen.

Lane, says the Daily Mirror, also "brought Liverpool to life" in her work, her home city becoming the backdrop for her most iconic shows".

The Daily Express recalls Lane was a keen animal rights activist who once shared her home with parrots, canaries, cats, dogs and a tortoise and returned her OBE in 2002 in protest at an honour given to the boss of an animal testing laboratory.

Missed chances

Photographs of Liam Fee appear on the front of several papers after his mother Rachel and her civil partner were found guilty of murdering the two-year-old at their home near Glenrothes in Fife in 2014.

Metro's headline - "killed in house of horrors" - refers to the fact the High Court in Livingston heard Rachel and Nyomi Fee also abused two other boys, putting one in a cage.

What the commentators say...

media captionFay Schlesinger, head of News at the Times, and Financial Times energy correspondent Kiran Stacey join the BBC News Channel to review Wednesday's front pages

'Smugglers on CCTV'

The apparent uncovering at the weekend of a cross-Channel people smuggling route into a Kent village continues to fascinate the papers.

The Daily Express reports on the criminal gangs cashing in on migrants trying to reach the UK from northern France amid tighter security at Calais and the Channel Tunnel.

A 90-minute crossing in a flimsy dinghy could be bought for as little as £100, while a journey from Dunkirk in a rigid inflatable can cost £12,000, says the paper.

The Sun and Daily Mail both carry CCTV footage from Dymchurch said to show evidence of small boats being towed through the village late at night by suspected smugglers as part of a "sophisticated" operation.

Meanwhile, according to the Daily Telegraph, Home Secretary Theresa May in January cancelled an aerial surveillance programme designed to stop migrants crossing the Channel, despite being warned of the risk.

The Telegraph acknowledges the Border Force did say at the time it intended to explore new technologies.

But it also notes that Tuesday's announcement new patrol boats would be brought into service to bolster an existing fleet of four cutters was dismissed as a "joke" by some critics after it was revealed this would not happen until 2017.

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