Newspaper review: EU referendum pledge dominates papers


David Cameron's pledge to hold an in-out referendum on the EU is the lead for most.

The Daily Express sees it as a victory for its campaign urging the prime minister to make the vote a straight choice between keeping Britain in the European Union or pulling out altogether.

The Times says Mr Cameron is setting Britain on course for a momentous referendum, in the pivotal speech of his premiership.

The Daily Mail has the headline "You WILL get an in or out vote on Europe".

Question mark

In the Sun's view, Mr Cameron may have just improved his chances of winning the next election.

But the Daily Mirror describes the referendum as a dangerous gamble with Britain's political and economic future.

The Guardian says pro-Europeans are planning to lambast Mr Cameron for placing a question mark over Britain's EU membership.

According to the Independent, they will worry that he is opening the EU exit door - and Britain could lose job-creating foreign investment before the vote is held.

For the Financial Times, it is a high-risk strategy that will test the willingness of Paris and Berlin to cut the UK a better membership deal.

Proper role

Columnists are uneasy about Prince Harry's series of interviews broadcast after he completed his tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Alison Phillips in the Daily Mirror asks: "Am I alone in finding the interviews troubling? On the face of it, we are presented with a Boy's Own adventure.

"But dig a little deeper, and we catch a glimpse of someone I fear is battling personal demons."

In the Daily Telegraph, Harry Mount writes that if the prince is to maintain his popularity, and a proper role, the "loose-tongued Spencer emotion will, sometimes, have to give way to the stiff Windsor upper lip".

Politicise system

According to the Independent, the cabinet has discussed proposals to give ministers the power to "fast-track" nominations for knighthoods and other honours.

Ministers would be able to circumvent Civil Service vetting procedures and recommend candidates for awards directly to the independent Honours Committee.

But the paper says the move is facing resistance from some senior officials.

They fear it will politicise the honours system, and insist ministers must follow the same procedures as charities and members of the public who want to nominate people for awards, it reports.

Rain or shine

The Financial Times demands a better main airport for London after Heathrow struggled with snowfall once again.

It describes the cancellation of flights and the plight of passengers stuck on stationary aircraft as an embarrassing failure that cannot be allowed to continue.

It urges ministers not to delay a decision on expanding capacity - either by approving a third runway at Heathrow or building a new airport on a bigger site.

The paper wants London to have access to an airport upon which it can rely - come rain or shine.

Finally, the cartoon on the letters page of the Independent is blank - and the excuse is one we have become familiar to in recent days. A sign explains that it has been cancelled - "due to adverse weather conditions".

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