Newspaper headlines: Apple 'rages' over tax bill as UK sees 'opportunity'

As Apple "rages" over its £11bn (13bn euros) tax demand from the European Commission, the UK sees an opportunity to prosper, according to Wednesday's newspapers.

The commission has demanded backdated corporation tax for what it called a "sweetheart deal" between the tech giant and the Irish Republic stretching back to 1991, relating to an Irish "head office" that existed only on paper.

Metro highlights some of the numbers produced as part of the commission ruling, saying they have sparked "fury". In 2014, Apple paid 0.005p in tax for every £1 of profit it made across the EU - or £50 in every £1m, the paper highlights.

Apple avoided tax on almost all the profits generated from its multibillion-euro sales across the EU, as the profits were booked in the Irish Republic, rather than the country in which they were made, the Guardian says.

'Spectacular collision'

It adds the ruling prompted anger from Apple - which warned of a threat to future investment and job creation in Europe - and Dublin, with both expected to appeal.

"The figure of 13bn euros - plus interest - is 40 times the previous record for such a case and the equivalent of the annual budget for Ireland's health service," the paper reports.

The i's front page describes it as "the world's biggest tax bill" and says Apple is now facing calls for a government investigation into its UK tax arrangements.

It describes the EC's decision, following a three-year investigation, as the "most spectacular collision yet in a succession of clashes over tax between global conglomerates and the authorities".

Image copyright AP
Image caption Apple boss Tim Cook has challenged the EC's figures and finding

The Daily Telegraph focuses on what it could mean for the UK, amid suggestions the government could cut corporation tax to attract major international companies to locate here.

Downing Street said it would "welcome" Apple to the UK, with "Britain open for business", the paper reports. "Ministers said the decision could represent a significant 'opportunity' for Britain as it seeks to attract business after leaving the EU."

The Daily Mail also highlights British attempts to "woo" Apple amid the tax row.

"No 10 acknowledged that the UK, which has one of the lowest corporation tax rates in the EU, could gain a competitive advantage after Brexit," the paper says.

"EU countries are nervous that they could be undercut by the UK."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said the deal amounted to illegal state aid

The Financial Times highlights the US Treasury's warning that the ruling "could threaten to undermine foreign investment, the business climate in Europe, and the important spirit of economic partnership between the EU and US".

The paper adds: "The huge bill for back taxes is at the extreme end of expectations and came with an open invitation to European tax collectors to review Apple's business in their jurisdictions."

On its inside pages, Tim Bradshaw writes: "The damning verdict and huge headline bill from Brussels could tarnish [chief executive] Tim Cook's efforts to position the company as a defender of civil rights and bastion of social responsibility."


Glitter Balls

Image copyright PA
Image caption Laura Whitmore and Ed Balls showed off their moves

Step forward Ed "Glitter" Balls, former shadow chancellor and now Strictly Come Dancing competitor 2016.

He and his fellow competitors provide the glitz and glamour on Wednesday's front pages, with photos from the media launch of the new series of the popular TV show, which returns on Saturday.

According to the Daily Mail, Mr Balls, who lost his Labour seat at the last general election, stole the show alongside MTV presenter Laura Whitmore as they showed off some moves together.

Brent or Balls?

Mr Balls twirled Miss Whitmore round repeatedly, causing her to scream with laughter, and he also "strutted around" professional dancer Janette Manrara "and engaged in some saucy dance moves", it says.

The Sun was less complimentary, suggesting Mr Balls looked like he had been taking dance lessons from The Office character David Brent.

And the Daily Star offers an early verdict on his chances, via judge Craig Revel Horwood: "He'll be fab at canvassing votes from the public, at least."


Taking a bite out of Apple... and the EU

Image copyright Reuters

A number of the papers have waded into the Apple-EU tax row in editorial columns:

Apple rumbled (the Sun): "It's about time Apple was hit with a monster tax bill. They believe the world should just be grateful they create so many jobs.

"But their special deals and loopholes also create an overwhelming sense of injustice among other firms and individuals who are chased up for every last penny."

Rotten to the core (Daily Mirror): Tax avoider Apple's £11bn fine must be only the start of the fightback against giant corporations evading their public dues in Britain and Europe.

"The bite out of the tech giant's profits is a huge prize for the European Union and shames an Ireland which lost all self-respect when it let the firm pay as little as 0.005% tax."

EU shows its true colours over Apple (Daily Telegraph): "The European Commission's dealings with Apple and Ireland are a textbook example of what is wrong with the EU, both economically and politically.

"Economically, a punitive approach to the taxation of highly mobile international corporations is an act of self-harm: such firms can and will locate to countries that do not seek to milk them for every penny of tax they can.

"Politically, it is an affront to democracy that the unelected commission in Brussels should presume to dictate to Ireland's government what taxes it should levy."


What the commentators say

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Media captionBroadcaster Edward Adoo, and journalist and features writer for the Independent, James Rampton, join the BBC News Channel to discuss Wednesday's front pages.

Who's a good boy?

Image copyright Eniko Kubinyi/Eotvos Lorand University
Image caption The dogs' brain activity was tracked in an MRI scanner

It doesn't make a front page lead, but it's certainly a good tale.

Research from Hungary suggests dogs really do understand what their owners say - as long as they mean it.

"Scientists claim to have found proof that canines use both sides of their brains to understand the meaning and intonation of words in much the same way that humans process language," the i reports.

The researchers tracked neural activity in dogs as they listened to commands from their owners.

Reward centre

The Times says that the study, published in the Science journal, revealed that when an owner said "good boy" or "well done", the phrases lit up the reward centre in their dog's brain much more powerfully if they were spoken in a gentle voice.

The i adds: "When meaningless words were spoken in an encouraging voice or praise was delivered in a neutral tone, the dogs did not register the same neural effect.

"Simply saying 'good dog' will not do the trick; the owner has to mean it."


'Brexit divisions'

The Daily Express front page headline is unequivocal: "Nothing will stop EU exit".

It says Theresa May has "signalled her determination not to let Remain campaigners block Britain's decision to leave the European Union".

On Tuesday, the prime minister ruled out holding a further referendum on the exit deal she strikes with the bloc, the paper says.

"She will also not give MPs a vote on when to kick-start the formal exit talks by triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty."

In an editorial column, the paper says giving MPs a chance to "air their thoughts on the Brexit process" but not a vote is "yet another astute move" by the PM.

Image copyright EPA

"The government getting bogged down in a series of parliamentary battles with bitter Remainers is the last thing anybody needs," it adds.

"On June 23, the British people instructed the government to take Britain out of the EU. Mrs May does not need permission from MPs before finishing the job."

The Financial Times says that in a briefing with reporters, Mrs May's spokesman also "quashed the idea of an early general election to capitalise on her party's huge poll lead over the warring Labour Party".

'Sabotage risk'

"Mrs May's team knows that holding an early general election would create fresh uncertainty by triggering speculation about whether the Brexit vote could be sabotaged in the unlikely event of a Labour victory."

The Daily Mail says Mrs May will gather her cabinet at Chequers later to "hammer out a negotiating strategy for Brexit ahead of months of talks with fellow EU leaders".

However, the Guardian suggests an exercise in which civil servants were asked to assess the impact of a wide range of Brexit scenarios has "exposed potential divisions in government" between those wanting "as much Europe as possible" and others more wary.