Newspaper headlines: EU referendum race 'goes to the wire'

As the EU referendum campaign enters its final stretch, the press believe the result is too close to call and David Cameron's television performance is analysed.

The Financial Times reports that the prime minister tweeted a link to an article written by Labour MP Jo Cox who was killed in her constituency last week.

The paper continues: "With opinion polls suggesting the race is neck-and-neck after a swing to Remain, pro-Brexit campaigners argued publicly over the tone of their campaign, amid criticism that its focus on immigration had created an ugly mood in Britain.

"Cox's death led to the suspension of the referendum campaign, putting the brakes on a recent Leave surge.

"The FT's poll of polls puts the sides level on 44%, but politicians and business have learnt not to put too much faith in opinion polls, leading to great uncertainty over Britain's future.

"Turnout on Thursday will be key in a vote that could determine Mr Cameron's future as prime minister as well as the country's European destiny."

The i says polls ahead of the vote in three days' time suggested that the UK was heading for a cliffhanger result.

The paper says: "Surveys pointed to a recent recovery in support for a Remain vote - although pollsters are uncertain whether there is any connection between Jo Cox's murder and the apparent shift in attitudes.

"Three polls published yesterday indicated that Thursday's outcome was still too close to call."

The Telegraph says leading figures from both sides of the referendum campaign will embark on an "all-out blitz" to win over floating voters this week.

The paper adds that senior sources on both sides said the tone of campaigning will be more sombre after Mrs Cox's death but the message will not change.

"The EU referendum campaign has now fully resumed after a two-and-a-half day truce prompted by Cox's death," states the Guardian.

Oliver Duff, editor of the i, writes: "Nice quiet week ahead? We have not faced such consequential days since - oh - 21 months ago, when the fate of the United Kingdom was in the balance.

"That is once again the case; and this time the implications could, astonishingly, be even more momentous."

The Express has a similar sense of history, commenting: "Monday morning. A new week begins but not like any other.

"This is the most significant week in Britain's modern history since the referendum of 1975 which asked the public whether we should stay in the European Economic Community, as it was then known.

"But somehow this referendum of 2016 seems much, much more important not least because of the tone of the debate which has often been shrill, bitter and rancorous."


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Better case

The papers look back at Mr Cameron's appearance on a special referendum edition of the BBC's Question Time on Sunday.

The Guardian says he admitted he needed to make a better case for the UK to stay in the European Union.

"The prime minister invoked the memory of Winston Churchill as he delivered an impassioned plea for Britain to be fighters, not quitters, when it came to the EU," the paper says.

"But with polls neck-and-neck, Cameron acknowledged that people had been finding the debate 'confusing' and Remain needed to do more to convince them."

The Mail says the referendum campaign exploded back into life after a three-day truce as an audience "ripped into the prime minister's renegotiation deal".

Image copyright PA
Image caption David Cameron was quizzed by voters on Question Time

The Express says Mr Cameron faced a "barrage of hecklers" as he was likened to Neville Chamberlain, Conservative prime minister between 1937 and 1940, during a "ferocious live TV mauling" from the public over his EU policy.

The Times reports: "The prime minister began the show in a sombre tone with reflections on the death of Jo Cox, the murdered Labour MP, but became visibly more animated as an audience member tore into the renegotiation, demanding to know whether it had any legal force."

The Telegraph states: "In his most passionate intervention yet, the prime minister appeared stung by suggestions from an audience member that he was like a '21st Century Neville Chamberlain'."

The i says Mr Cameron admitted during "heated exchanges" with audience members over immigration levels that there was no silver bullet for controlling the number of new arrivals.


'Yorkshire lass'

Tributes continue for Jo Cox, who was MP for the West Yorkshire constituency of Batley and Spen, with the Guardian reporting that a fund set up for three of her favourite charities has already raised more than £700,000.

"Just two days after its launch, donations continued to flood in as a manifestation of the public's horror over her killing with more than 22,000 making contributions by yesterday afternoon," it says.

The paper pictures the Yorkshire Vikings cricket team observing a minute's silence in her memory on its front page.

The Times says people in Birstall, where she was stabbed and shot in the street, were still reeling from the death of their beloved "Yorkshire lass".

Image copyright AFP
Image caption A church service was held to remember the life of Jo Cox

Supermarkets sold out of flowers, prayers were said in church for her family and the world's media saw her constituents break down in tears, it continues.

The Telegraph recounts: "Jo Cox's grieving husband has revealed how he took the couple's two young children camping at the weekend to remember the happy times the family spent together under the stars."

Brendan Cox said his wife had loved the great outdoors and so he and the children had camped out on Saturday night in order to be close to her.

"In a moving tweet, Mr Cox said the three of them had reflected on the last time they had been together as a family and had been woken by the beautiful sound of the dawn chorus."

The Sun says there are growing calls for the man who tried to save Mrs Cox, 77-year-old Bernard Kenny, to be honoured for bravery.


Statue battle

The Times carries news of something of a falling out between supporters of two Victorian nurses who famously worked in the Crimean War, Florence Nightingale and Mary Seacole.

Seacole, who in 2004 was voted the greatest black Briton, is about to get her own statue - and the Florence Nightingale Society is seething, says the Times.

Apparently they are furious that the statue, due to be unveiled at the end of the month, is taller than those of Nightingale in Waterloo Place and World War One nurse Edith Cavell outside the National Portrait Gallery.

Also, it will be outside St Thomas' Hospital in London where Nightingale founded her nursing school.

In a letter to the Times, a group of historians and Nightingale biographers write: "Mrs Seacole's battlefield excursions (three only - she missed the major ones) took place post-battle, after selling wine and sandwiches to spectators.

"Mrs Seacole was a kind and generous businesswoman, but was not a frequenter of the battlefield 'under fire' or a pioneer of nursing.

"We would gladly support a Seacole statue, to honour her for her own work and not at Nightingale's hospital."

Lord Soley, who began campaigning for a Seacole statue more than a decade ago, said opposition from the Nightingale backers was "frustrating and rather sad".

"Florence Nightingale will not be undermined by this statue," he said.