The papers: UK stepping up Iraq role

  • 18 August 2014

The papers are agreed that the UK will become more involved in the unfolding situation in Iraq, and that commitment could go on for some time.

"UK mission: stop Islamic State" is the blunt headline on the front page of the Daily Telegraph.

The paper says Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the mission in Iraq was no longer just about ending the humanitarian crisis but also joining the "fight against terrorism" and supporting the new government.

The Telegraph says David Cameron's intervention at the weekend - in which he said Britain would have to use its "military prowess" to help defeat the militants - led to renewed calls for Parliament to be recalled.

Conservative former Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind writes in the Telegraph that if it takes working with Iran to defeat Islamic State (IS) then so be it.

"On this occasion, my enemy's enemy is not my friend," he says. "But to borrow Margaret Thatcher's comment on Mikhail Gorbachev, we can, on the issue of jihadi terrorism, do business with them."

"Are we to infer that the UK is devising a tough response to IS that they want others in Nato to follow?" asks the Telegraph. "If so, we need to be told what it is."

The Times says Britain has offered the hand of co-operation to Iran after the crisis in Iraq and the rise of Sunni extremism forced a rethink of its approach to a host of countries in the region.

In a leader, the paper says Islamist extremism in Iraq and Syria is a "nihilistic and barbarous adversary" that demands tough security policies as well as humanitarian aid to the victims.

The Sun is fully behind Mr Cameron: "We need to stop IS before it gets stronger and threatens our own way of life. This is a fight we have to have. And to win."

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Mission creep

Kurdish Peshmerga fighter near the Mosul Dam in Iraq

"Britain dragged deeper into Iraq conflict" is the headline in the Daily Mail.

The paper says Mr Cameron spoke amid a series of dramatic developments on the ground that will fuel concerns about mission creep and prompt fresh demands for the recall of Parliament.

Writing in the Guardian, former cabinet minister Chris Huhne urges Mr Cameron to put the spectre of losing last year's vote on intervention in Syria behind him.

"Britain has so far done little except tip food parcels out of military transport; the last week has been notable for dither and delay," he says.

"There have been no British air strikes to support US disruption of the attacks on the Yazidis. Such is the shadow of the government's parliamentary defeat on the Syrian intervention almost exactly a year ago."

The Independent says it seems only yesterday that Parliament was being asked to endorse air strikes against the Assad regime in Syria - yet today it is President Assad's most potent enemy that is the target of our hostility.

"The cynical laughter in Damascus can practically be heard above the exploding of barrel bombs," it suggests. "Rarely has Western foreign policy tied itself in such elaborate knots."

Daily Express columnist Leo McKinstry writes that instead of "donning the mantle of the world's moral policeman" Mr Cameron should turn his attention to closer to home.

"For the reality is that murderous jihadism is already in the midst of British society, thanks to the treacherous policies adopted by successive governments," he says.

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Family values

Police officer speaking to a young person

The Daily Express leads with a story that more than half a million "neighbours from hell" are to be helped to turn their lives around by specialist teams in a government initiative that, it has been suggested, could save taxpayers £30bn a year.

The paper is enthusiastic about the scheme, saying that children in problem families "deserve our help".

"Improving the lives of vulnerable children is a noble aim, one that should be pursued even without the prospect of a financial windfall," it says.

"But when a policy suggests it can save money and benefit children it represents an opportunity that cannot be missed."

The Sun agrees: "Dealing with the underclass is certainly a moral issue - but we now know that it's also the mother and father of economic issues."

The Daily Mail says the situation is the result of decades of governments deciding it would be easier to "hurl money at Britain's burgeoning underclass rather than try to break the cycle of welfare dependency".

"The next time the left snipes at Iain Duncan Smith's brave attempt to stop people from being written-off to a life on handouts, they would do well to remember what the ruinously expensive alternative is - and the misery it inflicts on countless lives," the Mail concludes.

The papers also preview a speech by David Cameron in which he will announce a raft of new measures to support the family.

However, Guardian chief political correspondent Nicholas Watt says Mr Cameron risks being accused of returning to the moralising "broken Britain" message of his early leadership.

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Gold rush

England women's rugby team celebrate winning the World Cup

A plethora of British sporting success is celebrated on the front pages, with the England women's rugby team leading the way.

"England's women crowned world champions," exclaims the Daily Telegraph. The paper says they beat Canada in the World Cup final after a run of games that has put women's rugby on the map.

England's women are also pictured on the front of the Times, which says they threw off their demons after defeats to New Zealand in previous finals in 2002, 2006 and 2010.

The Express says a vet, a plumber and a police officer swept England to sporting glory - polishing off what had already been a great day for British sport.

The paper adds that David Cameron was among the first to congratulate them, tweeting within minutes of their victory.

The Sun says England lifted the World Cup as they showed male football flops how to win a trophy.

Great Britain's 4x100 women's relay team take pride of place on the Guardian's front page after they won gold at the European Athletics Championships.

Great Britain's 4x100 women's relay team
England cricket team celebrate win over India

It came on a day when Team GB won five gold medals to secure their biggest medal haul in the history of the championships.

Sean Ingle in the Guardian writes: "British athletics has never enjoyed a day as successful as this at a major championships.

"And when the dust had settled, and the sound of God Save The Queen had finished ringing out across Zurich like evening song, the scale of the triumph became apparent."

England bowler Chris Jordan is pictured on the front of the Financial Times which says India were "demolished" in three days in the cricket fifth Test at the Oval.

While British sport is on a high, Times correspondent James Hider says Brazil has still to come to terms with its 7-1 defeat to Germany in the World Cup. Visiting the football museum in Sao Paulo, he says the damage is not just to national pride.

"Further questions remain as to how the glittering infrastructure of the tournament, put up at massive public cost, will be used," he says. "Brazil's football reputation is in tatters. The legacy for the country as a whole is yet to be seen."

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