Newspaper headlines: Green faces MPs over BHS, referendum flotilla clash and 'Brexit budget' revolt

Former BHS owner Sir Philip Green's appearance before a Commons committee probing the collapse of the retailer comes under the spotlight in Thursday's press.

It was, says the Guardian, a "fiery" six-hour hearing in which the tycoon repeatedly clashed with MPs as he pledged to "sort" the £571m black hole facing the company's pension scheme.

"Green spars with MPs over BHS collapse," says the headline in the Financial Times. It describes the proceedings before the select committee as a "marathon and sometimes ill-tempered hearing".

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The Sun, which calls the scenes "astonishing", is among the papers to focus on the confrontations between Sir Philip and MPs on the panel, one of whom he told to stop staring and another to put his glasses on as it made him look better.

Sir Philip, who has come in for criticism for the £400m in dividends taken out of BHS during his 15-year ownership, sold the firm last year.

And for the Daily Mirror, the committee failed to get to the bottom of the "scandal" of its demise.

"So in control of events was Sir Philip Green for most of the six hours he was being grilled it felt like he was chairing his own committee and the MPs were on trial," writes the Mirror's Brian Reade.

According to the Times, the retail billionaire is trying to salvage his reputation and his comments suggested he could now inject more than £275m into the pension scheme.

"If Sir Philip Green had hoped to endear himself to MPs... then he might have chosen a less confrontational approach," the Daily Telegraph says in a leading article.

"However, as he rightly observed, the priority must be to rescue the pension fund... he has given an assurance that a solution will be found... He must now deliver on that promise."


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Flotilla 'mayhem'

The Daily Express calls it the "battle of Tower Bridge". For the i it will go down as "one of the high-water marks of the rancour now sloshing around the EU referendum debate".

The confrontation on the Thames between UKIP leader Nigel Farage's "Brexit flotilla" of fishermen backing the Leave case and a pleasure cruiser carrying rock star Bob Geldof and other Remain supporters attracts plenty of headlines.

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"In a personal crusade stretching over 25 years the UKIP leader has navigated plenty of choppy waters in his bid to free Britain from the EU," says the Daily Express.

But this time "sailing under the rival flag of the European Union was a liner captained by multi-millionaire Remain cheerleader Bob Geldof".

"The publicity stunt", writes Henry Mance in the Financial Times, "brought brief respite to the referendum campaign, which has been marked by bitter rhetoric on both sides".

"Fishing has become a major battleground ahead of next week's vote," says the Daily Mail. "But the attention soon switched from the key issues."

It was, says the Guardian, a campaign stunt that quickly turned to mayhem. Geldof maintained the industry was better under the EU but angered fishermen who yelled from their boats they could not make a living under its quotas.

"Rival leave and remain fleets skippered in spirit by the UKIP leader and the rock star fundraiser skirmished on the fast flowing river between Tower Bridge and the Palace of Westminster," adds the paper.

"What an extraordinary day," says the Daily Telegraph's Parliamentary sketch writer Michael Deacon, who indicates he had no idea of what was to come when he decided to join journalists on Mr Farage's boat.

"They say it's difficult to engage the young in politics. But I reckon that story should help spark their interest."


'Open revolt'

The chancellor's warning of cuts to public spending and tax increases in the wake of a vote to leave the EU has in the words of the Daily Mirror sparked "open civil war" in the Conservative Party.

It is, says the Daily Mail, an "unprecedented open revolt" against George Osborne.

And after 65 Leave-supporting MPs vowed to vote down any emergency "Brexit budget" the paper's columnist Peter Oborne accuses the chancellor of an "act of profound recklessness".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Osborne outlined the "Brexit Budget" proposal alongside his Labour predecessor Lord Darling

The Sun portrays Mr Osborne's move as a "panic-stricken attempt to terrify people away from voting Leave".

The Daily Telegraph says his statement was a "misjudgement and sign of panic among Remain leaders who cannot see beyond next week's poll".

In its front page story, the Guardian says George Osborne's authority has been directly challenged by the MPs.

But the paper's business editor Larry Elliot does not believe there was ever the remotest chance a vote to leave would actually result in such a budget being put forward. It was, he writes, a "scare tactic, the last roll of the dice from a desperate chancellor".

The Financial Times says Mr Osborne gambled his future as chancellor by making the warning - although it notes Remain supporters said he did the right thing to focus attention on the economic risks to the UK ahead of the 23 June referendum.

Meanwhile, the FT is calling on its readers to vote for Britain to remain in the EU.

After the Sun urged support for Brexit earlier this week, the FT maintains in an editorial that "Leave has failed to spell out the serious risks of life outside the EU".

"The positive case for Britain in the EU is easily made," it says. "To abandon the cause of constructive reform of an admittedly imperfect EU would be more than defeatist. It would be a gratuitous act of self-harm."


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