Newspaper review: Papers consider UK economy

Papers

The papers debate Friday's GDP figures, which revealed the UK economy shrank by 0.3% in the last quarter of 2012.

The Independent calls the news a wake-up call for the government, arguing the time has come to end austerity.

It says economic experts have joined politicians to warn Chancellor George Osborne that fiscal policy is on the wrong path and to "find a Plan B".

Boris Johnson is chief among the dissenters, according to the Times.

It reports he has thrown down the gauntlet to Mr Osborne, with a call in Davos to ditch austerity and focus on inspiring confidence and securing investment. "With friends like these who needs Ed Balls" it wonders.

'In the doldrums'

The Guardian has a different take on the London mayor's motives, saying he actually supports the deficit-reduction strategy but believes in making savings elsewhere.

But his alternative strategy will not win him many friends in government, adds the Financial Times.

"Neither sinking, nor sailing, just listing" - is the paper's verdict on the economy, which it says is "in the doldrums".

The Independent reflects on the prime minister's speech on Europe, given earlier this week, arguing it is not what voters will be worrying about at the next election.

The government's decision to hold a debate on the EU in the Commons next week is misguided. "It's not Europe, stupid - it's the economy", the paper concludes.

Meanwhile, the Express leads with the weather, warning of chaos and misery as the Big Freeze turns in to the Big Thaw. It says Britain is now on flood alert as milder temperatures combine with heavy rain over the next few days.

Cost-cutting blamed

The Daily Mail has a warning for career women, reporting the number of alcohol-related deaths among high-flying females has soared in the past decade and is now rising faster than for men.

It also says middle-class and middle-aged women are now drinking more than teenagers.

The Mirror and the Sun lead with the story that a sick baby had a dummy taped to its mouth, allegedly by a nurse, at Stafford Hospital.

The Sun quotes the child's grandmother saying she thinks this is nothing less than torture and that it does nothing to improve the hospital's reputation.

The official inquiry into failings at the hospital, where between 400 and 1,200 patients are thought to have died needlessly, is expected to blame cost-cutting, adds the Daily Telegraph.

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