Britney Spears has pulled out of appearing at the MTV EUROPE awards and flown back to America, citing "exhaustion".

The ME AGAINST THE MUSIC singer was to appear at this Thursday's (06NOV03) star-studded ceremony alongside ex-love Justin Timberlake and CHRISTINA AGUILERA, but instead is heading back to her native Louisiana for some time with her mum LYNNE.

Britney has also cancelled a slew of other promotional duties in Europe, which have thrown her plans to relaunch her career with new album GET IN THE ZONE into doubt.

Speculation is also running rife over the reasons for her sudden exhaustion - with record company JIVE officially stating it as a throat infection, many commentators are looking to her late nights and boozy drinking sessions while in Europe as the real reason for her ill health.

A source says, "This is a disaster in commercial terms. Britney's record sales have nose-dived recently. She really needed to work hard to plug this album.

"She is absolutely exhausted and felt in her condition there was no option but to fly home.

"But there's a feeling that her wild partying hasn't helped things. You can only stumble home at 4am so many times before it catches up for you.

"She might still be a massive name but her sales are a million miles away from singles like OOPS!...I DID IT AGAIN and BABY...ONE MORE TIME.

"Her future career hinges on how this album does - and it doesn't look good."

04/11/2003 01:53