Newspaper headlines: EU referendum 'too close to call'

In their last editions before polling day, the papers produce a mix of reporting and campaigning on the EU referendum.

The Mail and the Express call on readers to vote Leave, while the Mirror devotes its front page to a pro-Remain message.

In a cartoon, the Mail shows a British family looking nervously out through the open door of a cell marked "EU".

The paper says Remain campaigners have "failed to articulate a single positive reason for staying in the EU", and urges readers to seize the chance to leave.

Meanwhile, the Sun urges voters not to trust Prime Minister David Cameron.

It publishes a large picture of his face and writes: "Look into his eyes... and then make sure you vote Leave tomorrow."

But the Mirror says Britain must "lead not leave".

"No editorial judgement could have been harder for us than this," it says, adding that the EU is a "difficult organisation to support with great enthusiasm".

However, it says the EU cannot "carry the can" for problems caused by the Conservative government, and a Brexit would probably result in a "savage" recession.

It says Britain is "greater in Europe", adding: "We are too good to shuffle off to the international sidelines, impoverished economically, culturally and influentially."

Image copyright AFP/Reuters

One major talking point is backing for each campaign from experts and celebrities.

In a letter to the Times, 1,285 business leaders - who together employ more than 1.75 million people - say EU membership is "good for business and good for British jobs".

In an editorial, the paper says voters should follow the advice of people in the "engine room of the British economy" and back Remain.

'Above politics'

"Battle for celebrity endorsements turns nasty" is a headline in the i.

It says Victoria Beckham has clashed with Leave campaigners after they "dug out comments from 20 years ago" in which she accused "Euro bureaucrats" of destroying British individuality.

It comes after her husband David Beckham backed Remain, and in the i Matthew Norman says the former footballer and "metrosexual demigod" may prove persuasive.

Norman refers to the Beckhams as celebrity "royalty" - but the reported views of actual royalty feature in several papers.

The Sun and the Express both say the Queen recently asked dinner guests to give her "three good reasons why Britain should be part of Europe".

Buckingham Palace officials said the Royal Family was "above politics", the Express reports.

Image copyright Reuters/AFP

The Guardian and the Mirror both publish spreads of pictures showing the famous faces backing each campaign.

Both pick out JK Rowling, Jeremy Clarkson and Sir Elton John among the Remain supporters, and John Cleese, Katie Hopkins and Elizabeth Hurley for Leave.

Under the headline "I'm a beLeaver", the Sun focuses on British "grafters" who back Brexit.

It quotes people including shop workers, business owners, a fisherman and a full-time mum who want Britain to leave the EU.

'Pincer movement'

Several papers beat tight deadlines to include reaction to the BBC Great Debate, which took place on Tuesday evening.

In the Guardian, Matthew d'Ancona says the Remain team "concentrated its fire almost exclusively on the Leave camp's superstar general" Boris Johnson.

The former London mayor was caught in a "pincer movement" between his successor Sadiq Khan and Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, he says.

But Quentin Letts, writing in the Mail, says the Leave team "turned in more of a team performance".

And he says the crowd at Wembley arena "showed active dislike for Remain's Project Fear".

Image copyright Reuters

In the Times, Lucy Fisher makes Mr Khan and Ms Davidson her joint winners with ratings of four out of five.

She says Mr Khan was nervous early on but then launched a "salvo of attacks" on Mr Johnson, while Ms Davidson won over the audience with her "sassy raised eyebrow and head wiggle".

The Telegraph's Michael Deacon is not convinced, saying Ms Davidson was "like a busy little midfielder tasked with roughing up the opposition's star playmaker".

"Eventually the audience laughed at her tenacity, then groaned," he writes.

He says the crowd's clapping, cheering and groaning "drowned out chunks of the debate", and concludes: "Oh well (WOO!), at least (YAAAY!) the campaign (RAAAR!) is almost over (HOORAY!)"

Eye-catching headlines

  • French roast les Rosbifs in pitch battle: French groundsmen claim Uefa has turned pristine turf into "something resembling a cow field" by calling on British expertise before Euro 2016, the Times reports.
  • School drops beach trip over skin cancer fear: The Telegraph says a primary school cancelled a trip to the beach for 200 pupils because of worries about skin cancer.
  • Sickness benefit: Doctors have said workers should be allowed to sign themselves off sick for up to two weeks without seeing a GP, the Sun says.
  • Summer love-in: The Daily Star says more than 12,000 people gathered at Stonehenge in Wiltshire at dawn on Tuesday to mark the summer solstice.
Image copyright PA

'Pure evil'

Several papers report on the life sentence given to a father who beat his six-year-old daughter to death in Sutton, south London.

Ben Butler, who had a history of violence, murdered his daughter Ellie 11 months after she was returned to his custody by the family court, the Guardian says.

Butler was jailed in 2008 after being found guilty of grievous bodily harm against Ellie when she was seven weeks old - but that conviction was quashed, the Telegraph reports.

Ellie was then put back in Butler's care despite a warning from her grandparents that the authorities would have "blood on their hands", the paper adds.

Image copyright Metropolitan Police
Image caption Ben Butler was jailed for a minimum of 23 years for killing Ellie

The Times says the court ruling which returned Ellie to Butler's care "gave him the power to fend off police, doctors, teachers and social services", leaving him "free to abuse and eventually murder" her.

Metro calls the stay-at-home dad "pure evil".

Ellie's mother Jennie Gray was jailed for 42 months for helping cover up the crime and for turning a blind eye to Butler's "reign of terror", the Mail reports.

It says Gray - who defended Butler "to the very end" - had a "warped love" for him.

'Crossroads in space'

The return to Earth of British astronaut Tim Peake - and his plans for the future - feature in several papers.

The Guardian reports that Maj Peake has spoken of a fleeting moment when he feared his spacecraft's main parachute had failed.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Maj Peake spent six months on the International Space Station

Maj Peake said he would return to space "in a heartbeat" and would love to go to the Moon, the Telegraph reports.

The paper also says the European Space Agency has announced that a space base could be "parked" between Earth and the Moon within a decade.

It quotes the ESA's Dave Parker, who calls the plan "a human outpost in deep space, located far out, where the Earth and Moon's gravity balance, a kind of crossroads in space".

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