Immigration, the fate of 'Boris Island' and Ashes misery occupy press

Concern over the number of migrants to Britain makes headlines once again, with the Sun printing a front-page comment demanding David Cameron "draw a red line on immigration... or else".

It cites a poll suggesting the public wants the prime minister to "win back power to halt immigration from the EU" and the "or else", it seems, refers to a perceived likelihood the British public would vote to withdraw from the union altogether after the next election.

Associate editor Trevor Kavanagh writes: "[Mr Cameron's] dithering over the past year has transformed a simmering drama into a potent political crisis". However, according to the Guardian, the prime minister is "rushing through a block on European Union migrants' access to benefits from 1 January", when remaining work restrictions on Romanians and Bulgarians will be lifted.

The Daily Telegraph says it "will be seen as an attempt by Mr Cameron to appear tough on immigration".

Reviewing the papers for the BBC News Channel, Times columnist Jenni Russell described it as a "panicked reaction". Co-panellist Tim Collins, once a speechwriter for Margaret Thatcher, said the PM was addressing the fact "a fairly small minority" of immigrants come to the UK because they are attracted by the welfare state.

Mr Cameron's move comes as census data shows "a nation changed for ever", according to the Daily Express, which highlights a four-fold increase in the number of people born abroad in the past 60 years. The Times describes immigration accounting for almost half the total increase in the population of England and Wales.

Boris Island marooned?

Cartoonist Adams, in the Daily Telegraph, sums up the Davies Commission's interim report on airport capacity by picturing "Boris Island" with a bedraggled London Mayor Mr Johnson standing under a solitary palm tree, shaking a fist at jets bound for Heathrow and Gatwick.

The Financial Times describes Mr Johnson's preferred option of a Thames estuary island airport as a "wild card", having been left off the shortlist of preferred options - restricted to additional or extended runways at London's two main airports - for its viability to be further assessed next year.

The FT's editorial says Mr Johnson's "£112bn dream is Victorian in its vision, but ultimately too disruptive and costly", asserting that Heathrow is the "only serious option".

For the Times, on the other hand, the only answer is to "Go East" to the estuary, given the "fundamental problem that Heathrow is in the wrong place".

It adds: "[Moving] Britain's main transport gateway to where it should have been all along, comes freighted with political, technical and not least financial problems. None is insurmountable."

The Guardian's Gwyn Topham believes Gatwick has "reason to be cheerful", given the commission's reasoning that to "have one huge hub strikes us as quite risky". But the paper finds residents near both Heathrow and Gatwick opposed to expansion, one campaigner near the latter arguing: "It's not just a runway, it's the industrialisation of Sussex".

Infrastructure indecision

Image caption Symbols of modern Britain?

Lamenting the UK's lack of investment in airports, power stations, housing or railways, Ross Clark, in the Times, compares the country's infrastructure to a "souped-up Hillman Imp". He says: "It just about does the job but remains incorrigibly a piece of faulty and badly-built 1960s technology."

Despite an almost unanimous call from the press for a speedy decision, the Independent's Simon Calder says that, given politicians refuse to be bound by the commission's recommendations: "Doing nothing - the policy for the London area for most of the time since the Wright brothers first flew - may yet prevail."

Times cartoonist Peter Brookes captures this procrastination over a decision by sketching the future - in the form of the Starship Enterprise, circling Earth, asking: "Any decision on that third runway yet?"

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary argues in the Telegraph that the commission need not exist at all. Any airport should be given permission to expand, subject to normal planning permission, to let the market decide which succeed, he says. "After all, the government doesn't determine where new hotels or new tourism facilities are developed. Why should it make the same decisions on runways?"

Meanwhile, Simon Jenkins, in the Guardian, argues that - in any case - airport expansion is "just a glamorous project for the rich", while "poor people's infrastructure, such as buses, roads, rail upgrades and urban renewal, is cut".

Flights by Xbox

After RAF Waddington opened its doors to journalists to see its unmanned drone operations, the papers enjoy describing the roles of the pilots. "Fighting the Taliban... with Xbox joystick," is how the Sun describes military personnel operating the cameras on spy planes.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail describes how an RAF pilot "unleashes hell on the Taliban - from the comfort of an armchair in Lincolnshire", referring to the "cockpit" from where the RAF controls the unmanned Reaper aircraft's laser-guided bombs some 8,000 miles from the warzone.

The Independent describes the opening up of Waddington's operations as a "charm offensive" aimed at preparing the public for the day when pilot-less planes are allowed to fly in European airspace.

And Defence Secretary Philip Hammond would seem to back that up, arguing in the Guardian that drones are "not 'indiscriminate killers' but assets that keep civilians and troops safe".

Ashes inquest

Many sports sections lead on suggestions in the football world that Liverpool will "break the bank" by paying Uruguayan Luis Suarez anything up to £200,000 a week to keep him on the books. But, buried within, cricket writers pick over the bones of England's lifeless Ashes campaign.

"Limp England show the stamp of terminal decline," is the gloomy conclusion in the Independent, while there is much soul-searching from the players. Wicketkeeper Matt Prior writes in the Telegraph that "we finished third in a two-horse race", while captain Alistair Cook is quoted admitting it was the "lowest point of his career" by the Daily Star.

Gideon Haigh, a columnist from the Australian newspaper, describes for the Times the "noticeably weathered" caps of an ageing England team, adding: "What in other circumstances might have conveyed sagacity instead came to symbolise miles on the clock, and, frankly, the lack of anything much else to give." The Daily Mirror's Oliver Holt agrees that an era has ended, adding: "Giants of our game have reached the end of the road."

And Glenn McGrath, who's terror with the ball still haunts the memories of past England stars, warns in the Guardian: "There will be no let-up - 5-0 is a real possibility."

The Mail, however, adopts a more positive tone, examining how England can turn the tables in 2015. Chief sports writer Martin Samuel cautions: "Before the bloodletting starts, just remember Aussies won back the Ashes by sticking with losers."

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