Newspaper headlines: EU's Gibraltar 'ambush' and Prince Charles tries to 'halt' a war

Rock of Gibraltar Image copyright PA

Pictures of the Rock of Gibraltar loom across many of Saturday's papers as they reflect on the draft EU's Brexit strategy allowing Spain a say in the future of the British overseas territory.

The papers rebuff what the i calls the European Union's surprise attempt to use Gibraltar as a Brexit bargaining chip. The paper leads with the story alongside the headline "EU's Gibraltar ambush".

The Guardian says the EU's opening negotiating position for the Brexit talks presents the government with the choice of reaching agreement with Spain over Gibraltar's future or exposing it to economic peril by pushing it outside an EU-UK trade deal.

The Mail says the idea that different rules could apply to Gibraltar than to the UK is ludicrous and the EU is naïve in the extreme to think that ministers will budge one inch.

The Mirror's response is blunt: "Off your rockers". For the Sun, it is utterly unacceptable to put the future of the territory on the negotiating table. The Telegraph dismisses it as a ridiculous distraction to the Brexit talks.

'First skirmishes'

There is a palpable sense of relief that the Brexit negotiations are now for real. As the Times puts it, the gauntlets have been thrown down, the opening cards played, the warning shots fired.

For the Mirror, we are entering the business end of Brexit - the rhetoric of the past is a worthless currency. The Mail says the draft negotiating position set out by Brussels marks a welcome end to the EU posturing and sabre rattling. The tone was reasonable and sensible, it adds.

For the Sun, there was plenty to object to. But these are just the first skirmishes of a long negotiation. You would not expect the European Council President Donald Tusk to be less than feisty at this stage, it adds.

But the Guardian warns that separation after four decades of marriage will come at a cost. Both sides are likely to end up poorer, weakened by two years of custody battles. It feels like any divorce...only the lawyers win.

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Google's taxes

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The Times' main story reports that Google's latest accounts suggest HMRC agreed to repay the company £31m in corporation tax last year. It says this is despite government pledges to claw more cash from internet giants. According to the paper, Google sources say there has not been a cheque from HMRC but the overpayment has been reflected on the balance sheet. The company says it has paid all taxes that are due in the UK.


Prince Charles biography

For its lead, the Mail says a new biography of Prince Charles reveals that he tried to halt the American invasion of Afghanistan to "honour" Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting. It says he made the plea to the US ambassador to London four weeks into the military operation in 2001. According to the paper, the startled envoy explained it would be rather difficult to halt a military invasion already in full swing and asked the Prince "Sir, are you really serious?"


'Defiant' smile

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Image caption Mrs Cochran's family released photos of her recovery in hospital following the Westminster attack

Many papers publish the first pictures of Melissa Cochran, one of the badly injured victims of the Westminster attack, as she recovers in hospital. Her husband, Kurt, was killed. The couple had been visiting London from Utah to celebrate their silver wedding anniversary. One of the pictures shows her standing by her hospital bed with the help of crutches and, in the words of the Mirror, smiling defiantly. Mrs Cochran's family posted the picture online with the caption "Getting stronger every day".


Secret royal wedding?

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Finally, there is the usual light relief as the papers make the most of today's date by trying to fool their readers.

The Mail has a double spread of pictures showing Prince Harry marrying his girlfriend, Meghan Markle, in a secret ceremony in Las Vegas. The paper says they did not want a fuss and opted for a $300 (£239) package that included flowers, music and a souvenir photograph.

And the Guardian reports that former chancellor George Osborne, who already has six jobs, is now planning to launch his own clothing line. His Georgio range promises "high-quality, hi-visibility industrial garments aimed at the multi-tasking CEO". It will cater for both sexes, the paper goes on, and the women's range will include safety boots with a low kitten heel.