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Last Updated: Saturday, 27 March, 2004, 07:41 GMT
Anger at Blair's EU stance

Tony Blair's newly-stated belief, that European leaders should try to reach a deal on the EU constitution as soon as possible, provokes an angry response.

Under the headline "fools rush in", the leader writer in The Times urges caution - suggesting that Mr Blair could be in danger of signing Britain up to a document which has what the paper calls "serious legal implications".

The Times argues that the prime minister should try to slow the EU constitutional machine down - or be ready to hold a referendum on the issue.

The Daily Telegraph agrees.


Why, it asks, when Mr Blair's government constantly stresses its democratic credentials, is it refusing to consider a referendum?

The Telegraph warns that the EU constitution would further undermine Britain's parliamentary sovereignty and says that such an important issue requires "a good open debate".

But The Daily Mirror takes a different view, calling Mr Blair a "Euro crusader".

It says that his policy will keep Britain in line for what it calls "the enormous benefits that must come from a strong, prosperous European Union".

The Daily Mail exposes what it calls the rise in "sham marriages" - where EU citizens are paid to marry immigrants so they can obtain residential rights.

The paper says that, in some areas of the south east of England, up to half of all civil marriages are believed to be fakes.

It quotes an unnamed registrar in Hertfordshire, who says: "We are supposed to be marrying two loving people - instead we are aiding and abetting people who are trying to cheat immigration controls".

Poison risk

The Guardian leads with an undercover report into the operations of the gang masters who are said to control many Chinese labourers in Britain.

In a three-page feature, it publishes the diary of a journalist who posed as a migrant worker, doing shifts in a meat processing plant in Suffolk.

Many of the papers carry reports about chickens with unreliable "best before" dates being sold in shops, putting consumers at risk of food poisoning.

In its leader column, The Express urges the government to tighten existing legislation, so that food processing plants cannot re-label the chickens before they reach the market place.

The Sun uses a grim pun to convey its view of the practice - with the headline "Utterly Fowl."

The Times warns Labour against using catchphrases like "the Blair Generation".

Bumped off?

It lists examples of past governments who have embraced such buzz-words, only to find that they have become a lingering reminder of policies that went wrong.

For The Independent one of the big issues of the day is the removal of traffic calming measures from areas where they have been put in to improve road safety.

"Is this the end of the road for the speed bump?" asks the paper - which concludes that calming the traffic is more important than calming impatient drivers.

Finally, a shell-shocked reader of The Times uses the paper's letters page to complain of a very different kind of traffic hazard.

Guy Perkins, from Wiltshire, writes: "Yesterday I had to leap off the pavement to avoid being knocked down by an elderly woman driving an electric buggy flat-out as she talked into her mobile phone."

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