Newspaper headlines: Drink-drive limit, Andy Murray's 'new bawls' and Tory ball
The amount of alcohol people can drink before legally getting behind the wheel could soon be reduced, if the papers are anything to go by.
According to the Times, ministers are discussing whether to cut the drink-drive limit in England and Wales - currently 80mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood - for the first time in almost 50 years. Reducing this to 50mg would bring it in line with France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Ireland, and force drivers to hold back from finishing a whole glass of wine in the pub, the paper notes.
As the Daily Telegraph explains, Scotland reduced the limit in December 2014 and UK Transport Minister Andrew Jones has indicated he will discuss the effects of Holyrood's move on road safety. The Daily Mail quotes Scottish police figures suggesting the number of drink-drive offences fell by 12.5% in the following nine months, compared with the same period the previous year.
Both the RAC and a majority of AA members support the move, according to the reports, although the Telegraph quotes AA president Edmund King saying that motorists would need to be more aware of their condition the morning after drinking.
There are suggestions the limit reduction has had unintended consequences, however. The Times reports that Glasgow's 105-year-old Blairbeth golf club closed last year, with members blaming a slump in takings at the bar following the change.
- "Fancy a curry and a beer, pet?" - Britain's cats and dogs are getting fat on a diet of takeaways and alcohol, according to a study quoted by the Daily Express
- "Chainsaw massacre!" - the Daily Mail records the anger of Sheffield folk at the council felling 3,000 roadside trees across the city
- "Ancient art of match-fixing revealed" - transcription of a fragment of ancient Greek documentation among 500,000 dug-up in Egypt more than a century ago has revealed how a wrestler threw a match, reports the Times
- "Found: An honest estate agent"- the Sun's reaction to a "brutally honest" advert describing a flat strewn with rubbish and with mould on the walls
New puns, please
The birth of Andy Murray's first child was always going to make headlines, and the Daily Star is not alone in punning on the sleepless nights the tennis ace can expect with the headline: "New bawls please."
It captures images of the Murray-mania in the star's home town of Dunblane, where the postbox painted gold in honour of his 2012 Olympic triumph has been adorned with pink ribbons to mark the little girl's arrival. A butcher, meanwhile, is pictured advertising strawberry and chilli-flavoured Little Miss Murray sausages. He apparently shifted 200 in the half-hour after the news broke.
"My little smasher," is the Sun's pun of choice, while the Daily Mirror reckons the new arrival makes a "perfect set" for the Murray family. "Kim serves up baby girl for Andy," says the Daily Mail.
Fans were still awaiting the announcement of the newborn's name but favourites include Freya, Alexandra, Elizabeth and Grace, according to the Daily Express. One bookie is offering odds of 50/1 on the new arrival to grow up to be a Winter Olympics medallist, 100/1 to play football for Scotland and 500/1 to win a tennis Grand Slam, the paper adds.
The Daily Telegraph focuses on the method of delivery - not of the child but of the news. Murray tried to inform his whole family at the same time by text message, according to chief reporter Gordon Rayner. But he adds: "His plan backfired when his grandparents were unable to open the message, leaving them baffled." His maternal grandmother is quoted saying she only realised "something's happened" when a second message arrived saying: "No name yet, but she's doing really well."
Crisis? What crisis?
Fears of a fresh financial crisis are increasingly being reported in the news, with the Daily Telegraph's front page describing "scenes not witnessed since the height of the eurozone crisis" when London's FTSE 100 index of leading shares "plunged to its lowest level since 2012".
"As investors across the globe wondered whether a repeat of the 2008 crisis was on the cards, Germany's Deutsche Bank was at the eye of the storm, with shareholders questioning whether it had enough funds to pay its debts," explains business editor James Quinn.
According to the Financial Times, the German giant is considering buying back several billion euros of its debt in the form of bonds "to shore up the tumbling value of its securities". It adds: "Fears about the solidity of bank debt... has prompted an investor dash to buy protection."
The Daily Mail notes that Deutsche is one of a number of banks, including the UK's Standard Chartered, valued at less than they were before the financial crisis as a result of the FTSE's slide in value which has seen 10% taken off the value of stocks since the turn of the year.
"Some banks are vulnerable because they have made big loans to frackers on the assumption of high energy prices; others have made big bets on luxury London properties which hedge funds are beginning to short," says the Guardian. "Underlying it all are overdue questions about just what, if anything, the authorities have got in the locker for the next time the turbulence gets out of hand."
Hamish McRae offers some encouragement in the Independent. While he admits that "you always worry when finance ministers say they are not worried" - as the German Wolfgang Schauble did about Deutsche Bank - he says that despite commentators still being wary after failing to spot the 2008 crisis, few are using "the R-word, recession". It's judged a 20% possibility in the US by one senior economist, he says.
Studying past crises has taught only one certainty, he concludes: "Share prices will eventually bounce back, provided you wait long enough for them to do so."
What the commentators say
Details of what went on at the annual Conservative Party Black and White Ball - described universally as a secretive fundraising affair - are splashed across many pages.
The Sun lists the richest guests - including "an oligarch and a porn baron" - how much they paid for their tables and even what they ate, which included seared venison with parsnip and white chocolate puree, wild mushrooms and coffee crumb. "Black and White regular Charlie Mullins, who founded the successful Pimlico Plumbers business in London, ignored the air of secrecy by tweeting a series of pictures," says the paper.
It reproduces the snaps, showing Mr Mullins alongside David Cameron and ministers such as Iain Duncan Smith and Priti Patel. However, it adds that London Mayor Boris Johnson - who turned up on a bike - "won the 'selfie' battle, upstaging the PM as punters queued for poses".
The Daily Mail uses a large photograph of sporting executive and Apprentice star Baroness Brady "wearing glittering gold heels of the type normally seen in town centre nightclubs". Andrew Pierce writes: "Welcome to the modern Tory Party - once the home of such great Britons as Benjamin Disraeli and Winston Churchill. But of course, the party's current leader, David Cameron, has a soft spot for bling-encrusted celebrities."
However, the FT says the affair was more "low-key" than in previous years. "Most ministers arrived in business suits rather than the traditional black tie, triggering grumbles from attendees," it says, quoting one figure describing it as "incredibly disrespectful" to those guests told to wear evening dress.
Another attendee is quoted describing the auction as "more like a village fete than a Tory plutocrat ball", while the paper reports tension caused by the party's divisions over Europe overshadowing the event. The result, according to the Independent, was that the event "raised less money than the organisers hoped", namely a £2m target.
The Sun wonders why they bother with such a "vulgar" party, given the Conservatives don't need to "stuff venison into billionaires' mouths to secure their cash". It suggests two reasons: "One is they can't help themselves. It's what they like to do of an evening. The other is that Labour is powerless to embarrass the Tories while repeatedly soiling itself in public."
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