Newspaper headlines: Merkel's rebuff and the Hong Kong murders

David Cameron's hope of renegotiating Britain's terms of membership of the EU seems to have reached a Teutonic roadblock after Germany's Angela Merkel in effect told him she would rather see the UK leave the community than abandon the principle of free movement of labour.

The Guardian says there is now "speculation that Cameron is rowing back from his focus and tough language on immigration amid fears that the Conservatives will never be able to go as far as UKIP supporters want."

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Image caption The German chancellor and the UK's prime minister have not seen eye-to-eye on European Union reform

Instead, the paper says, strategists have told him he should "focus on the economy" in the run-up to the general election.

Chancellor Merkel's comments that quotas on migrant numbers would be a "point of no return" for Britain's EU membership have produced defiance from some newspapers.

The Sun thinks the Germans are bluffing.

"Is Merkel really gung-ho about Britain, the EU's most prosperous nation, leaving the Brussels club?" it asks in its opinion column.

"Her key aide recently said it would be a 'disaster' for Europe. Britain was 'indispensable', he said.

"We don't see Merkel wanting to be left alone to prop up Europe's failed economies."

The Daily Express also thinks Mrs Merkel's words are designed to play to a domestic political audience and are "not really true".

"Appeasing German leaders is not something the British approve of, and history tells us that previous attempts to do so have not ended well," the paper's leader column says.

"If only [Mr Cameron] would call her bluff in this absurd game.

"He won't, of course. He is painting himself into a corner and the only way out is that door marked 'referendum'."

One of the "softer" options for taking action over the level of migration is the lead story in the Times.

The paper says the government is considering a plan to block access to benefits for EU migrants until they have paid UK taxes for at least a couple of years.

The proposal includes removing tax credits, which the paper says "would remove one of the incentives for EU migrants coming to Britain."

Number 10 has confirmed it is "looking at" the plans, although the Times says legal advisors think a treaty change would be needed to implement them.


'Dishevelled sandals'

Monday's press is full of reports and comment on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's report which said that fossil fuel use must be phased out by 2100 to prevent disastrous climate change.

The Independent says the UN-backed report is the world's "final warning".

Its editorial on the matter is bleak: "The global environment is the ultimate 'common good' issue for the world, the property of everyone and no-one.

"Worse still, the effects of trashing it will not become critical for decades, long after most people alive today have departed a steadily more degraded Earth.

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"Thus the decision makers have little incentive to change much. As the IPCC implies, the outlook is about as grim as can be."

The Guardian says the IPCC's goal that greenhouse gas emissions will peak by 2020 is "extremely challenging".

The paper also notes, "two-thirds of all emissions permissible if dangerous climate change is to be avoided have already been pumped into the atmosphere."

The Daily Mail highlights critics' fears that the moves from fossil fuels outlined in the IPCC report would mean "soaring fuel bills and increased risks of power blackouts".

The Daily Telegraph's main story quotes an IPCC expert who says some green groups have been "alarmist" over climate change.

The paper's leader column says "climate change is undoubtedly a serious problem. Yet the difficulty the IPCC faces in convincing us to tackle it, is that it has hardly covered itself with glory before.

"Its reports are the result of endless wrangling between experts and governments, resulting in an uneasy fusion of spin and science."

The paper adds that rising world incomes this century should enable humanity "to invest in the kind of technological innovation that minimises carbon emissions without damaging growth".

Times columnist Matt Ridley derides greens who "believe they occupy the moral high ground".

He says the IPCC report has been presented with "spin" and in fact it contains a range of possibilities regarding the world's future climate.

The worst one - the one with dire consequences by 2100 - is based on "wildly unrealistic assumptions", Ridley says, while a more moderate scenario contained in the report suggests "climate change will not cause significant harm in the lives of our children and grandchildren".

In the Guardian, Owen Jones says that there has been a "Green surge" in British politics which has been ignored by a "UKIP-obsessed" media.

"The Greens' ceiling of support is potentially high indeed: according to Ipsos Mori, 43% of Britons would consider voting for them, nine percentage points above UKIP and only one less than the Tories," he argues.

The party is reaching out to working class voters, he says, by addressing issues such as the living wage and housing, and opposing cuts.

But Jones admits the stereotype of a Green supporter as "an eccentric bohemian hippy, unkempt beard, John Lennon-style glasses, wading through muesli in dishevelled sandals" is something the party will have to work hard to shed.


Beetroots

Although domestic stories dominate Monday's newspapers, there is widespread coverage of the elections held in the rebel-held portions of eastern Ukraine.

The Daily Telegraph says the polls in the self-declared "people's republics" of Donetsk and Luhansk had no voter list and only one real candidate, but voters had an unusual incentive for turning out.

"Stalls outside [polling stations] were selling beetroots, potatoes, onions and carrots for barely a few pence per sack," the paper reports.

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Image caption Donetsk rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko is predicted to get 81% of the votes in the eastern Ukraine election

Apart from root vegetables there was also "a preponderance of armed men in and around polling stations", the Telegraph notes.

Separatist leader Alexander Zakharchenko is quoted as saying, "today our people will decide the future fate of our state", whereas the Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko has called the vote "a farce conducted under the threat of tanks and machine guns".

The Guardian says another feature of the election is the lack of international observers.

With the Europe's main electoral monitoring body the OSCE shunning the poll, it fell to a group called ASCE - which the paper says was "mainly made up of far-right European politicians" - to approve the voting.

"The fact that neo-Nazi European politicians are the only people east Ukraine has found to back its supposed uprising against the 'fascist' Ukrainian authorities is one of the many paradoxes of the situation," the paper's man on the ground, Shaun Walker, says.

Ben Hoyle for the Times witnesses a man voting twice in Donetsk; "once for his wife who couldn't come".

Hoyle says despite the many irregularities witnessed, Russia has been quick to recognise the vote, although it "threatens the threadbare ceasefire" in the region between rebel militias and Ukrainian forces.

"The war continues," one militia commander tells him.

The Times leader comment says the election "was a one-horse race, and the horse came from a Russian stable".


'A Somerset guy'

The Clarinet King is how the Daily Mirror headlines its appreciation of trad jazz titan Acker Bilk, who has died aged 85.

The paper says the Somerset-born musician learned to play the instrument in the Army in Egypt and smuggled the instrument back with him when he returned to his native county after National Service.

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Image caption Bilk's Stranger On The Shore was the first record to be simultaneously number one in the UK and the US

His signature tune, and biggest hit, Stanger On The Shore was, the paper notes, "a departure from his Dixieland style - [but] was hard to forget".

The musician, who stopped smoking after a heart attack in 1976, still enjoyed a "dry sherry", his "term for anything from champagne to scrumpy".

The Independent quotes Kenny Ball Junior, whose musician father was a contemporary and occasional collaborator with Bilk, as saying, "He was such a wonderful player.

"My dad always turned around and said, 'There will never be a clarinet player that is so smooth that will ever come again from England'.

"He conquered everywhere. He was such a lovely bloke, a very genuine guy."

Among other nuggets about the jazzman's life, the Indy notes that Bilk met his wife when she was just five years old, and resisted childhood piano lessons as he was "too busy playing football... and poaching".

The musician's manager, Pamela Sutton, tells the Daily Mail that Bilk could "charm an audience", but at heart was "fun-loving and very much a Somerset guy".

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