William Hague and the cabinet 'cull', women bishops and Cheryl Cole weds

Many headlines describing David Cameron's reshuffle of Conservatives ministers prove to be variations on a theme.

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For the Daily Telegraph it's a "cull of the middle-aged white men", while the Financial Times describes the victims as the "male, pale and stale". The i labels them the "men in suits" and says younger women are being promoted in their stead.

Much of the focus is on the departure - albeit a voluntary one - of Foreign Secretary William Hague. Spectator editor Fraser Nelson, writing in the Telegraph, says Mr Hague worked hard in office but describes him as a "brilliant Tory who lost his passion for politics". Similarly, the Daily Mail's Simon Heffer writes of an "enormous talent... a serious brain, a magnificent speaker" before concluding: "we have witnessed a long, steady decline not so much of his powers but of his engagement with politics."

His successor, says the Independent's Oliver Wright, faces a "baptism of fire" in having to formulate Middle East policy amid ongoing turmoil in Syria, dealing with political uncertainty in Ukraine and the prospect of delivering a deal to allow Mr Cameron to win an in/out referendum in 2017.

In addition, Francis Elliott writes in the Times that the timing of his departure is "far from ideal", given Mr Cameron "has just been given a bloody nose in Europe, having failed to stop Jean-Claude Juncker becoming the European Commission president".


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The PM's other departing "big beast", Minister Without Portfolio Ken Clarke, bowed out "with a warning to David Cameron not to diminish Britain in the world by leaving the EU", as the Times put it.

The papers enjoy writing his political epitaph, with the Mail's Quentin Letts describing him as "one of the last cigar-wafters in British politics". They were, he writes, "sometimes Havanas, sometimes filthy little cigarillos, which emitted an acrid smoke like Calcutta rickshaws". Remembering that Mr Clarke was "one of the few" to tell Margaret Thatcher her time as PM was up, the sketchwriter adds: "How often do we complain that politicians are two-faced and never say what they truly think? This charge could never be levelled at our Ken."

As the Times Diary recalls: "One of Clarke's less heralded claims to fame was winning the World Cup in 1966." It explains that he once claimed to have shouted from the stands at the Russian linesman to convince him to award England's dubious third goal. Times cartoonist Peter Brookes picks up on the theme of older men being replaced by younger women, picturing Mr Clarke wearing a skirt, two footballs down the front of his top, with Mr Cameron saying: "Nice try, Ken..."

Writing in the Financial Times, Janan Ganesh says: "The promotion of women at the expense of men who have pottered around government in a state of clubbable semi-retirement in recent years... is painfully overdue. But the aims have more to do with broadcasting a message than governing." Daily Mirror political editor Jason Beattie is in no doubt that women will be appointed to cabinet "to counter the attacks that Downing Street is run by junior common room of privately educated, wealthy men that has been blind to the issues affecting women".

Telegraph cartoonist Adams picks up on this suspicion, depicting the PM placing frocks and hats on shop dummies at No 10 under the heading "window dressing". And the Independent's Steve Richards reckons that "behind the new, female-dominated Tory party, lurks the same, male-dominated Tory party", adding: "There will be more Tory women ministers on our screens from today onwards, but they will exert little power."

The Daily Star speaks out for the women, its editorial arguing: ""If women really are going to be equal with male counterparts at Westminster, they must be appreciated for all the skills and knowledge they bring.

Tears of joy

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A striking image of Reverend Kat Campion-Spall shedding a tear of joy after the Church of England's General Synod voted to allow women bishops is used on the Daily Telegraph's front page.

The Independent believes the Church has taken a "vital step in securing it a meaningful role in society". In his commentary, former Catholic Herald editor Peter Stanford writes in the Telegraph that the decision is just the latest example of a "strong streak of pragmatism running right through [the Church] that has enabled it successfully to adapt to changing circumstances".

Both the Times and Independent are quick to draw up a shortlist of the women in line for leading roles. Meanwhile, the Guardian's Ruth Gledhill is convinced that an archdeacon - rather than a cathedral dean - will be first in line. "They have had to deal with anger, hurt and dissent as liberals, evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics attempt to live apart, sometimes in the same pews. As a bishop, one of these former archdeacons will have to deal directly with Christian men and women who believe their ministry is not valid, or biblically sound."

The Daily Mail's Q&A explains what will happen when disputes do arise, and how the plan which secured the compromise "recognises that opponents of women bishops have the right to 'flourish'".

Cheryl who?

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Cheryl Cole's "secret" marriage to French restaurant entrepreneur Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini makes the front pages of five newspapers, with the Daily Express particularly interested in her "£300,000 sparkler" - the diamond and platinum engagement ring and wedding band combo the X Factor judge showed off via her Instagram account.

Meanwhile, the Sun says "Cole dropped again", suggesting that the singer will be ditching the name of her ex-husband - footballer Ashley Cole - with a reference to his omission from England's World Cup squad. "Now it's Madame Fernandez-Versini," it reports, adding: "In a sign of Cheryl's plans, she yesterday dropped Cole from her Twitter name, becoming @CherylOfficial."

A girl band star who went before her - Mirror agony aunt Coleen Nolan - notes that the pair married just three months after meeting and wonders why the rush: "I'm worried about Cheryl. I'd hate to see love fail for her again, so I just can't help but think: Why get married so soon?" Likewise, describing the Frenchman as a "playboy with an eye for models", the Mail asks: "What can possibly go wrong, Cheryl?"

But the Telegraph's Judith Woods answers: "In truth, nothing any more cataclysmic than what can happen to the rest of us who live together for years first." She speaks to psychologists and counsellors to back up this view, before going on to list a few celebrity whirlwind romances that have ended in tears.

Meanwhile, the Daily Star suggests another swift development may be on the cards, repeating speculation that the couple will soon be expecting a baby. It says bookmakers have slashed odds on a pregnancy announcement this year.

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