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Sunday Paper Review 18th March 2012

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The way things are going George Osborne's 2012 Budget speech on Wednesday is going to be quite tedious, because almost all of the big items will have already leaked by then.

Sunday's major leak - that Sunday trading laws are going to be relaxed for the Olympics, isn't really a leak at all. It's a pre-announcement, carried on the front page of The Sunday Telegraph, and greeted with dismay by some Tory MPs and church leaders. They fear it's the thin end of the wedge, and that this temporary relaxation might become permanent.

Is the coalition leaking so much of the Budget to deliberately annoy the Speaker of the House of Commons? Or are they trying to test the water of the nation before actually implementing their plans? If it's the latter they've got their response in a poll for the Sunday Mirror and the Independent on Sunday - most people don't seem to be enthused by scrapping the 50p tax rate. And surprise surprise, most people want fuel duty cut on Wednesday.

Back to the Sunday Telegraph, though, where there's "growing anger" from businesses over the 50p rate, who see it as a deterrent to wealthy foreign nationals coming to Britain to do business. Assuming the 50p rate is to go, it's reported in the Telegraph that alongside the budget there'll be a "robust" assessment of how much the higher rate band has actually brought into the Treasury coffers. Clearly if Osborne's going to scrap 50p he's going to have a lot of explaining to do. But how many voters actually read Treasury documents, robust or otherwise?

Nick Clegg is another politician who'll have some explaining to do if 50p sails off into the sunset. The Observer talks of "mounting anger" among Lib Dems, shocked and dismayed at the prospect of tax cuts for the rich.

The Observer says: "Amid growing fears that the party is being outmanoeuvred by Conservatives keen to protect the middle classes and wealthy, John Pugh, the Lib Dem MP for Southport, said the idea of regional public sector pay could 'force them [Lib Dem backbenchers] to vote against the budget, cementing coalition divisions.' "

Earlier last week HuffPost reported on how Labour leader Ed Miliband bravely gathered together the energy to get to a football match, despite being too ill to attend an NHS rally the day before. According to the Mail on Sunday the prospect of his party's coffers getting a cash injection might have spurred him on. The paper says Miliband was at the Hull FC match as the guest of Businessman Assem Allam, who has apparently donated the six-figure sum to Labour.

The Mail on Sunday is also claiming that people like Elton John's partner David could be "furnished" with honorary titles, in the latest equality drive. It's all grist to the mill in the gay marriage debate, which will reach a crescendo later in the year when legislation is expected to appear in Parliament.

Sadly the celebrity gossip isn't exactly stellar this Sunday. The Mirror reports that a Masterchef judge has left his wife (the second Masterchef judge to do so in recent weeks, as it happens), while The People has someone called Chantelle who's worried about giving birth.

The paper says: "Chantelle’s fears have been fuelled by the near-tragedy of Amanda Holden, 41. The ITV Britain’s Got Talent judge almost died after giving birth by emergency Caesarean to ­daughter Hollie in January."

Slightly fuzzy logic.

Here's the front pages:

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Sunday Papers 18 March 2012
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