Newspaper headlines: 'May woos Labour MPs with cash'

Theresa May Image copyright PA

The Daily Telegraph reports that Theresa May's chief Brexit negotiator warned her against backing the proposal to reopen negotiations with the EU.

It claims Olly Robbins raised his concerns in a series of emails, questioning whether the EU would be willing to make significant changes to the so-called backstop, which is designed to prevent the return of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

The Financial Times says EU leaders have closed ranks behind Brussels' refusal to renegotiate the 585-page draft treaty. It adds that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has warned of the increased chance of a disorderly Brexit - and told leaders to "prepare for the worst".

The Sun says a new Brexit stand-off is developing between Mrs May and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel. It claims both leaders are now digging in their heels - with the prime minister preparing for a long fight; and Mrs Merkel believing that the UK needs time to "look into the abyss".

The Guardian leads on the government's plans to tackle knife crime with prevention orders placing a range of curbs on suspects - such as limiting their use of social media, to stop gang rivalries escalating online.

The Daily Mirror is more sceptical, describing the plans as a "gimmick". It quotes the mother of a victim of knife crime saying that the police and courts are failing to use existing punishments - such as four years in jail for carrying a knife. It also notes criticism from the Police Federation, which has accused the government of "tinkering around the edges" in its effort to tackle the problem.

"Universities named and shamed over unconditional offers" declares the front page of the Times. The paper, quoting admission figures, says some universities are making up to 84% of their offers unconditional - despite warnings that they damage students' education. It says new universities are the worst offenders - taking all the places in the top 10. The paper points out the university regulator in England - the Office for Students - has made clear that it is not happy with the practice

Meanwhile, the cold spell provides the opportunity for plenty of pictures and coverage. The Sun says snow has already closed schools and brought airports to a standstill - and warns worse is to come.

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The Times says Mrs May is preparing to entice Labour MPs to support her Brexit agreement - with a promise of extra money for deprived areas that voted Leave. The paper reports that the prime minister's allies believe she needs the backing of about 20 Labour MPs to get a modified deal through the Commons - to offset the number of rebel Conservative MPs. A senior government source tells the paper that "coalfield communities" are being singled out as the potential recipients of extra funding.

In its coverage - headlined "Battle for Brexit - the Daily Mail asks: "Will EU blink first on deal?" A diplomatic source tells the paper that the EU will make concessions - if Britain sticks to its guns. However, other sources warn that the talks will go down to the wire, with no significant changes offered before the next planned Commons votes in mid-February.

The i offers a positive tone for the prime minister, with the headline "Cracks appear in EU as May seeks deal". It says the Polish leader and senior German politicians have urged Brussels to break the deadlock and avoid a hard Brexit. It notes that the interventions are the first sign of divisions within the EU over its blanket opposition to offering fresh concessions to Mrs May.

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The Daily Express highlights the government's plans to recruit 20,000 staff to boost GP services. It says the new recruits - who will include pharmacists, paramedics and physiotherapists - will take the pressure off doctors.

The Times covers Wednesday's protests in Venezuela, as the crisis in the South American country deepens. It says the sound of pots and pans being banged echoed across Caracas, as shops and offices were barricaded as people poured onto the streets - calling for an end to the presidency of Nicolas Maduro.

The Guardian says Mr Maduro has warned President Trump that he risks turning Venezuela into another Vietnam - and accused him of trying to get his hands on the country's oil, as he said the US had done in Iraq and Libya.

Finally, the Telegraph reports on claims that Champagne was created by the English - by mistake. It quotes the head of a French Champagne house, Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger, as saying that the English merchants who imported still wine from France left the inexpensive white wine at London docks, where - because of the cold - it started undergoing a second fermentation, causing it to become carbonated.

The paper adds that the first known mention of the drink is found in English literature - specifically a Samuel Butler poem written in 1663 which refers to a "brisk Champagne".