Newspaper headlines: Couriers 'charged £150 for day off ill'

By BBC News

image source, Reuters
image captionThe Daily Express says the House of Lords assessment strengthens Theresa May's hands

The Daily Express applauds the House of Lords' assessment that Britain is not legally required to pay a fee to exit the European Union.

With the headline "Britain Can Quit EU For Free", it says the findings strengthen Prime Minister Theresa May's hand in the Brexit negotiations.

The Guardian believes the report is "likely to raise tensions with Brussels in the run-up to Brexit talks".

Ingeborg Graessle - a German MEP who chairs the European parliament's budget control committee - expresses her astonishment.

She tells the paper that, while "the EU feels that we have to organise a real divorce and we have to sort out the money, the kids, who gets the dog and the cat".

The British, she says, are treating it like "leaving a golf club".

A government source quoted in the Times uses the same analogy, pointing out that "once you leave the club, there is no obligation to keep paying".

The paper claims government lawyers have also concluded there is no legal basis for a "divorce settlement".

It says their advice "sets the stage for an early confrontation" between Brexit Secretary David Davis and the European Commission.

Philip Hammond is said to be preparing to set out plans in next week's Budget to protect consumers by fining companies that use misleading small print, and by eliminating confusing jargon.

The Daily Telegraph says the terms and conditions sections on insurance documents are longer than some Shakespeare plays.

The Financial Times says the chancellor will also take action to prevent unexpected bills such as unwanted subscriptions, as part of wider scheme to help working families.

Sick day charges

The Guardian reveals that couriers with the parcel delivery firm DPD are forcing themselves to work when they are ill because they face being charged £150 a day if they cannot find cover.

It says many are self-employed and are paid only when they work.

The Labour chairman of the Commons work and pensions committee, Frank Field, describes the arrangement as "appalling".

The company argues its drivers are franchisees contracted to provide a service and it reserves the right to charge them if they fail to do so.

'People's rebellion'

UKIP's millionaire donor, Arron Banks, uses an interview in the i to launch another scathing attack on the party.

He describes its sole MP, Douglas Carswell, as a "troublemaker" and says he will stand against him in 2020.

Mr Banks criticises the leader Paul Nuttall as "weak but potentially good" and says Nigel Farage should be re-engaged to lead a "people's rebellion".

"Brave Brucie: NHS Saved My Life" is the headline on the front of the Daily Mirror, after Sir Bruce Forsyth spent five days in intensive care with a chest infection.

Friends of the veteran presenter are quoted as saying he would back today's march in London in support of the health service.

image source, PA
image captionBruce Forsyth is said to have thanked the NHS for saving his life

In a two-page spread on the rally, the head of the PCSU union, Mark Serwotka, says he will be there to "repay the debt" he owes to NHS staff who saved his life with a heart transplant.

There is a remarkable tale in The Sun about a man from Oxford who is described as "Britain's unluckiest man" who has cheated death 12 times.

Ian Francis, who is blind, has been electrocuted twice, run over twice and narrowly escaped an IRA bomb.

He has survived a heart attack, brain surgery and having a cancerous kidney removed.

And last month, he was left homeless by a gas explosion at a neighbouring block of flats.

He jokes: "The Grim Reaper is after me."

'Impassioned, eloquent defence'

The Daily Mail reports on Theresa May's speech to the Scottish Conservative conference in Glasgow.

The paper calls it an "impassioned and eloquent defence of the Union" and agrees with her suggestion that "the economic case for independence" does not add up, insisting that Scotland would have been driven to bankruptcy by falling oil revenues and the RBS banking crisis if it had broken away in 2014.

A report in the Times suggests Downing Street is "deeply worried" about the outcome of a police investigation into claims of expenses fraud during the 2015 election.

Officials are said to fear that the result of up to half a dozen constituency votes could be declared void and trigger by-elections.

The inquiry hinges on whether Conservative MPs in marginal seats overspent on local campaigning.

Opera prejudice

The outgoing director of the Royal Opera House complains in the Daily Telegraph that the British are prejudiced against opera.

Kasper Holten, who is Danish, says people assume the art form is all about taking five minutes to sing "I love you" - and even longer to sing "I'm dying".

But he expresses his hope that the nation can learn to love Verdi and Puccini, just as they grew to appreciate good wine - rather than cheaper varieties like Blue Nun.