Newspaper headlines: Barack Obama kitesurfing and Brexit hard talk-NewsCO

February 8, 2017

The Times

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The main photo on the Times is former US President Barack Obama learning to kitesurf, which is also printed on a number of Wednesday’s front pages. The paper’s main story says Britain is facing its biggest tax bill for 30 years as the government seeks to eliminate the UK’s budget deficit.


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The Guardian leads on Theresa May telling MPs they will only be able to vote on the government’s final Brexit deal on a “take it or leave it” basis. The PM rejected calls by MPs for her to return to the negotiating table if the Commons voted against any proposed deal, the paper says.


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The Metro says bank overdraft charges can be seven times more than payday lenders can add in interest. It quotes a Which? report saying banks can charge up to £180 for exceeding an overdraft by £100 for 30 days, compared to payday lenders who are banned from charging more than £24 in the same circumstances.


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According to the Telegraph, the European Union is facing a “new Greek debt crisis” after the International Monetary Fund warned the county’s debts are on an “explosive path”. It opens up a “fresh split” with Europe over how to handle Greece’s debts, the paper says.


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Some 21 million savers have been “punished” after their interest rates were “slashed”, says the Daily Mail. Payouts of government-backed accounts and premium bonds are being cut by 0.25% points “kicking savers in the teeth”, it says.


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A weather warning leads the Daily Express. It says a 10-day icy blast will see the mild start to February “abruptly blown away” by “freezing gales” coming from Siberia.


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British Gas is planning a 9% price increase, which will increase energy bills for 11 million customers, the i says. The paper says the move will encourage the other members of the so-called big six energy companies to also increase prices.


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The Mirror leads on a story about a former police officer who it says has told the newspaper a hitman thinks he knows who killed the former BBC presenter Jill Dando. She was shot dead in London in 1999.


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A trial of two strippers who were sentenced for blackmailing rugby star Danny Cipriani makes the front page of the Sun. It says the judge also “slammed” the ex-England fly-half after “breaking promises” made to one of the women.


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The Financial Times leads on a story about Deutsche Börse and the London Stock Exchange Group “gambling” on Brussels approving their 29bn euro deal. Its front page also has a story saying supermarket low prices could be partly to blame for Britain’s vegetable crisis, dubbing it “vegenomics”.

For the Times, MPs have been given a “concession” after they were promised the chance to vote on Theresa May’s deal with EU negotiators six months before the UK leaves the EU.

The paper says Number 10 was “forced into the move to avoid defeat” at the hands of Labour and Tory rebels.

Before the government’s move to head off a rebellion, there were 20 Conservative MPs who were ready to defy Downing Street and vote against the government on Article 50 amendments, the paper says.

According to the Guardian, however, the prime minister successfully “faced down a Conservative rebellion over Brexit”.

A potential Tory rebellion was “virtually cancelled out” by six pro-Brexit Labour MPs who voted with the government, it says.

The government remains relatively confident the Brexit bill will pass its third and final Commons reading on Wednesday without changes, before heading to the Lords, the paper adds.

The Daily Telegraph warns the European Union is facing a new Greek debt crisis.

It claims the state of the government finances in Greece could destabilise the whole eurozone, and quotes the International Monetary Fund as saying a new bailout is needed.

The paper notes that the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, is unwilling to send funds directly to Athens as she faces a tough re-election battle in the autumn.

It predicts the Greek debt problems will come to the fore as soon as July, when the country is due to repay around 7bn euros to its creditors.

The Guardian considers the government’s white paper on the housing market in England and concludes it does nothing to confront what it calls the country’s “housing crisis”.

The paper says the government is not addressing the obsession of buyers in extending themselves to own a home.

It says there needs to be an honest admission that there is no chance of building the extra 250,000 new homes a year that the government says are required.

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The Daily Telegraph reflects on the news that the Institute for Fiscal Studies thinks tax rises and cuts to public services are set to continue well into the next decade.

In an editorial, the paper says the British state has regressed 30 years, threatening to reverse the direction of travel Margaret Thatcher struggled so hard to establish.

It says that while it is admirable that the government wants to reduce the deficit, taxes have risen for seven years in a row – and another way of raising cash would be by reducing our foreign aid budget.

The Times says teachers are using police-style body cameras to record misbehaving pupils.

The paper says at least two comprehensives in England – both with a history of unruly pupils – are using the cameras to tackle “constant low level disruption”.

The Information Commissioner’s Office – which regulates privacy issues – said that schools were free to use the technique as a “self-reflection” tool for students.

In its editorial, the Times says that Commons Speaker John Bercow over-reached his office when he tried to pre-emptively bar US President Donald Trump from addressing Parliament.

The paper says that while the speaker is entitled to his personal opinions, his comments smell of hypocrisy – having already invited the presidents of China, Kuwait and Indonesia to address MPs and peers.

It says that while Mr Bercow has done a reasonable job as speaker, his desire for personal publicity has “blighted his record”.

In his column in the Daily Mail, Quentin Letts says Mr Bercow’s criticism of the president is all the more surprising given the fact that he is a “mini” Trump himself.

He says Mr Bercow is as greedy for attention as the president and has the same inflated self-regard.

The Guardian though says Mr Bercow did not over-reach his powers.

The paper says he was right to intervene because, if Britain is truly pro-American, it cannot want Mr Trump’s presidency to succeed.

It says the president’s temperament does not tolerate “democratic restraint” and he wants his whim enacted as law.

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And finally.

They are the photos that show former US President Barack Obama “as you’ve never seen him before”, according to the Sun.

The photographs show Mr Obama learning to kitesurf while on holiday at Sir Richard Branson’s luxurious Necker Island in the Caribbean.

The “worries of the White House are clearly far from Obama’s mind”, says the Daily Mail.

The Guardian says US presidents “don’t get to have very much fun”, however, “whatever Barack Obama might be missing about the Oval Office, those restrictions don’t appear to be one of them”.

“Branson challenged the ex-president to learn how to kiteboard before Branson himself could learn to foilboard, another young watersport that resembles water skiing.

“According to Branson’s post, it was a challenge Obama easily won,” the paper says.

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