Newspaper headlines: ‘Battle begins’ and ‘coalition chaos’ warning

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The i is one of many papers continuing to focus on the snap election, as it declares “Battle Begins”. It says Theresa May won “overwhelming support” from the Commons vote to kick-start the campaign.

Mirror front page

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The Daily Mirror’s chicken dusts off its feathers to confront Theresa May, as the paper cries “Fowl play” at the prime minister’s refusal to take part in televised debates ahead of the general election.

The times front page

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The Times reports the prime minister is “ready to soften” her opposition to taking foreign students out of immigration totals. The paper says Theresa May’s compromise is an attempt to ensure that an overhaul of the university system can pass through Parliament before it dissolves on 3 May.

Guardian front page

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The Guardian leads with a warning from billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates, who has told the paper that the UK’s world influence will weaken and lives will be lost if Theresa May chooses to abandon the country’s overseas aid spending pledge in her party’s manifesto.

The Daily Telegraph front page

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The Daily Telegraph leads with a warning about a potential SNP “coalition of chaos” from Theresa May, who has suggested that would be the outcome of an alliance between the SNP, Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

Daily Mail front page

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Meanwhile, the Daily Mail reveals the “cast-iron Brexit pledges” that it says will feature in the Conservative manifesto. The paper reports these will include an end to EU free movement and the commitment to pull the UK out of the single market.

Financial Times front page

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The Financial Times leads with news that British companies are being “systematically shut out” from multi-billion-euro contracts by Brussels, according to an internal memo from top European officials seen by the paper.

The Sun front page

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The Sun leads with new “shoot-to-kill” orders that will see armed police officers given the authority to shoot at “jihadi death drivers”, as the paper puts it, following last month’s Westminster attack by Khalid Masood.

Daily Express front page

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The Daily Express reports excitement surrounding anti-depressant drug – trazodone – as it is suggested it could be used to halt dementia. The paper says the breakthrough “raises the possibility of an off-the-shelf treatment for sufferers”.

Daily Star front page

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A haunting story is the front page lead for the Daily Star, which reports that a priest has carried out a Coronation Street exorcism after a series of spooky happenings and “poltergeist attacks” on the soap’s set.

A number of Thursday’s papers focus on the content of the forthcoming Conservative election manifesto.

Party sources tell the Daily Mail it will feature three “Cast-Iron Brexit Pledges”. It says Theresa May will guarantee the end of free movement, and commit to pulling out of both the single market and the European Court of Justice.

The paper calls the move a “triple lock” aimed at preventing the prime minister’s Brexit plans from being obstructed by factions in the Lords and her own party.

The Sun speculates on the fate of the government’s commitment to foreign aid. It points to a refusal by the prime minister to back the pledge at PMQs as a sign that what it calls “the hated goal” could be ditched.

The front page of the Times claims Theresa May is ready to soften her long-standing opposition to removing student numbers from net migration targets.

The paper writes that Mrs May will offer to change the way numbers are calculated – so an overhaul of the university system can pass through Parliament before it is dissolved.

The Times says the prime minister faces having to make a number of such sacrifices to push through important bills – and that this will be the most galling for her.

The Guardian points out that George Osborne demonstrated a certain naivety about the workings of newspapers when he gave his new team at the London Evening Standard the scoop that he was going to stand down as an MP.

The revelation came too late to make the paper’s main edition – and had to be published in a specially commissioned late edition.

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The Daily Mirror interprets Mr Osborne’s announcement – that he intends to hold the government to account by fighting for the “Britain he loves” – as a veiled threat to the prime minister.

The Mirror calls his words a warning that he will use his influence to fight Mrs May if she pushes for limits to immigration and a hard Brexit.

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Prosperity in Pyongyang

The Financial Times reports on signs of economic improvement in North Korea. Observers say that although poverty remains rife, there are indications of increased prosperity and diversification.

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A tour operator tells the paper that coffee shops and food kiosks are opening in Pyongyang – and that its residents own mobile phones and pets, and are starting to travel around the country.

Full disclosure

Potential applicants to the position of artistic director at Shakespeare’s Globe are given an unusual insight into the role in the Daily Telegraph.

The outgoing incumbent – Emma Rice – and her predecessor – Dominic Dromgoole – have both published letters on the theatre’s website saying that the job can be a nightmare.

In what are billed as “open letters” to whoever takes over, Mr Dromgoole warns of cabals and connivers. And Mrs Rice said she would never again allow herself to be excluded from rooms where decisions are made.

The Globe tells the Telegraph it chose to publish the candid letters because it supports open conversation.

A four-wheeled expedition

The Daily Express says the great-grandson of Ernest Shackleton has followed in his intrepid ancestor’s footsteps in an expedition across the Antarctic, but with a modern twist.

Patrick Bergen – a technology entrepreneur – drove across the continent in a family car. He tells the paper: “I’m not a polar explorer – I’m an indoor guy.”

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