Newspaper headlines: Theresa May’s Brexit deal gets ‘one last chance’


Daily Mail front page, 29/3/19

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On the day the UK was supposed to leave the EU – with MPs set to vote once again on the Withdrawal Agreement Theresa May struck with Brussels – the Daily Mail is one of several papers with a message for MPs. “Put your country first. Uphold democracy. Back the Brexit deal today,” it says. “You’ve got one more chance.”

Daily Express front page, 29/3/19

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For the Daily Express, which carries a large and moody photograph of Parliament, the UK’s failure to exit the EU on schedule marks the “darkest hour for democracy”. Brexit, it argues, “MUST still be delivered”.

The Daily Telegraph front page, 29/3/19

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The Daily Telegraph describes a “day of reckoning” for the prime minister as she makes a third attempt to win over MPs, who will vote on the core elements of the deal. However, the paper says Mrs May has had “warnings from her closest aides and ministers that she is destined for yet another defeat”.

The Times front page, 29/3/19

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The Times says there “seems little chance” of the government convincing a majority of MPs to back the deal, given both Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Northern Ireland’s DUP remain opposed to it. If the PM fails, Britain will face a long delay to the Brexit process, possibly remaining in the EU for another year, the paper believes.

The Sun front page, 29/3/19

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The Sun is in no doubt who has the power to “save Brexit”. DUP leader Arlene Foster is being urged to back the PM, it explains, under the headline: “Come on Arlene!”

The Guardian front page, 29/3/19

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“No 10 insists it can still make progress, arguing that passing the withdrawal agreement alone will allow the UK to avoid a cliff-edge Brexit on 12 April, ” says the Guardian. The paper believes Mrs May is trying to “buy time”, and says cabinet ministers have told the PM she must leave her post, as she promised on Wednesday, “very soon”.

The i front page, 29/3/19

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And, according to the i, former foreign secretary Boris Johnson is “primed and ready” to replace Mrs May as prime minister. It describes Mrs Johnson’s Tory leadership campaign as having begun and reports that he held meetings with MPs from across the Conservative Party on Thursday.

Daily Star front page, 29/3/19

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Meanwhile, after 1,009 days of relentless Brexit reportage, the Daily Star has a message for the nation: “Do your duty and… SHUT IT!” It declares 29 March “Break-xit day” and bans use of the other B-word for 24 hours.

Daily Mirror front page, 29/3/19

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The Daily Mirror leads on an interview with the detective who led the investigation into the 1999 murder of newsreader Jill Dando. The paper quotes Hamish Campbell saying he believes her killer will never be brought to justice.

Financial Times front page, 29/3/19

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A watchdog’s warning that it would be “difficult to appropriately risk-manage” products made by Chinese telecoms giant Huawei against spying and cyber attacks is the lead story in the Financial Times.

Metro front page, 29/3/19

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And the Metro describes England as a “nation of pill poppers”, after figures showed the use of anti-depressants had almost doubled in 10 years.

The day of reckoning… the darkest hour for democracy… one last chance…

The return to the Commons of the Brexit withdrawal agreement Theresa May negotiated with the EU inspires some dramatic front-page headlines on what the Daily Mail says was the day when the UK was supposed to become a “proud sovereign nation once more”.

Or, as the Daily Express puts it, the day Britain was to be “freed from the shackles of the EU”.

And several papers urge MPs to back the prime minister’s deal and deliver the result of the 2016 referendum.

“This is it. The final curtain. High noon. The last chance saloon,” reads a thunderous, full-page Daily Mail editorial.

MPs have one last opportunity to stop faith in democracy dying, it says: “Spurn this chance and we could move into a deep, dark place.”

For the Daily Express what was meant to be a day of “celebration and liberation” has become the “darkest hour for British politics” since King Charles I entered Parliament in 1642 and arrested four MPs.

The message from the Sun’s leader column is simple: “Don’t betray UK.”

‘Blindfold Brexit’

Meanwhile, the paper’s front page urges the DUP and its leader Arlene Foster to “save Brexit”. The headline reads: “Come on Arlene!”

However, the Belfast Telegraph says that won’t happen because of the Unionists’ continuing unhappiness with the backstop – the “insurance policy” designed to avoid the return of customs posts on the Irish border.

It leaves Mrs May needing opposition support if the agreement is to pass, an “extremely unlikely” scenario, the Guardian suggests, because of Labour’s opposition to a “blindfold Brexit”.

According to the Times, Downing Street appears to know as much.

“For two hours it looked like we were finally getting there”, a No 10 source says ruefully, before the DUP made its announcement.

Downing Street sources have warned the Daily Telegraph defeat could trigger an immediate general election to break the current deadlock.

It’s a prospect the paper is sanguine about. It is time to let the deal die, its editorial says: “The Tories cannot legislate by chicanery, manipulating convention or repackaging motions.”

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“Deadlocked Britain faces further year before Brexit” is the headline in the Times.

It reports that EU leaders are preparing to force Britain either to accept a delay lasting as long as 12 months or “crash out without agreement.”

BuzzFeed News has seen a diplomatic note from an ambassadors’ meeting which also says the UK will face that same “binary choice”.

The Guardian acknowledges the “unique symbolism” of Theresa May’s deal seemingly facing its final defeat on what was meant to be Brexit day.

Its significance is to demonstrate that the process once “jealously guarded as the exclusive property of the prime minister and Tory hardliners” has ended, and that parliament must now “look for another way”.

The Daily Mirror reflects bitterly on all that hasn’t been done while politicians have spent “two years arguing about Brexit”.

That time could have been used to improve our schools, mend our NHS and tackle social care, it argues, adding: “We pay for the PM’s delay.”

Away from Brexit

The Guardian reports on research into the most “dangerously unsupported” demographic – those aged 65 and above with no children. There are a million such people in the UK, a number that’s expected to double by 2030.

Campaigners tell the paper it’s a group which is very at risk of isolation, anxiety and poor health outcomes but is “hardly ever mentioned”.

The Mail, meanwhile, points out that couples in their 60s are fuelling a “silver marriage boom”.

Data from the ONS shows the number of older people marrying has doubled since the millennium, at the same time as the marriage rate among men and women in their 20s and 30s has fallen.

A relationship counsellor welcomes the figures but points out those aged 50 and above are also the most likely to get divorced.

Money matters

The business papers analyse the $24bn dollar valuation given to the taxi-hailing app, Lyft, ahead of its flotation on the stock market.

The Wall Street Journal says it’s a “remarkable turnaround” for a firm which many considered “doomed” because of its “cut-throat” battle with its rival, Uber.

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The listing has “raised eyebrows” among analysts, London’s City AM suggests, given that Lyft’s never come close to making a profit.

“This is one gravy train I won’t be jumping aboard,” one of them tells the paper.

Riding a gravy train was exactly the accusation levelled at the former vice-chancellor of Bath University, Dame Glynis Breakwell, who – the Times reminds readers – was forced to resign after it was revealed she received a £470,000 pay package.

Now students are protesting again after it emerged the university paid a further £16,000 for a portrait of a woman they’d once pelted with fig rolls and shortbread after discovering she’d claimed £2 on expenses for a packet of biscuits.

The university says a normal procurement process was conducted, though the Times notes out the oil painting has now “mysteriously disappeared”.

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