Newspapers: May's Hinkley concern, Harry Potter play gala

The fallout from the government's decision to postpone giving the final go-ahead to the new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset is widely covered in Sunday's papers.

The Sunday Times reports that the decision to delay means UK taxpayers could face a £2.5bn bill if the government walks away from the deal it was expected to sign last Friday with French energy firm EDF and its Chinese backers.

Image copyright AFP

The paper adds the delay "sparked fears that Whitehall may try to change the terms of the deal by slashing the subsidies and limiting the involvement of EDF's Chinese partner, CGN".

The Sun on Sunday says Mrs May "is concerned about the security implications of giving China's state-owned firms a one-third stake in the reactor".

The paper adds that the PM's new joint chief of staff, Nick Timothy, "warned in an article before working at No 10 that China's role could threaten our national security".

The issue is also explored in the Sunday Telegraph. The paper speaks to Chris Phillips, a former adviser to Mrs May, who is sceptical about any Chinese involvement in "critical national infrastructure".

"If they had access to a nuclear power station, they could turn the electricity off whenever they wanted," he tells the paper.

According to the Mail on Sunday, Prime Minister Theresa May "blocked" the deal "to prove she will not be a pushover as she tours the world seeking post-Brexit deals".

The paper quotes a "well-place source" as saying: "Checking the fine print of the Hinkley deal sends a clear signal. We will do business on terms that suit us. We are not holding out a begging bowl."

The Observer casts a critical eye over the Hinkley saga in its leader column.

While saying the delay in giving final approval was the right decision because of concerns over value for money and the security risks of Chinese involvement, the paper argues the Hinkley deal is "terrible" for taxpayers and "crystallises many of the failings of British industrial policy over the last 30 years".

In its leading article, the Sunday Times also sees the potential for longer-term impacts from what appears to be a short-term delay. The paper argues it is important that it "does not set the tone for the new government".

Accepting Mrs May's administration "has a lot on its plate", the Times believes it does "need to think about the kind of Britain it wants to shape". But it "must also avoid acquiring a reputation for dither and delay", the paper concludes.


Flight from Aleppo

The Sunday broadsheets report on the opening of humanitarian corridors so people living in Syria's Aleppo can leave the besieged rebel-held eastern part of the city.

Noting that Aleppo was once Syria's main economic hub, the Sunday Telegraph says it has been divided into regime-controlled west and rebel-controlled east since 2012, when protests against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad "turned into an armed insurrection".

Image copyright AFP

"Those in the opposition-held areas have faced four years of heavy bombardment, fierce fighting and the threat of starvation, often out of loyalty to the revolution", reports the paper.

But the Observer says many of those still in Aleppo are "choosing to risk starvation and an escalating campaign of airstrikes rather than leave their homes and trust their lives to the attacking armies".

"Few people in Aleppo believe guarantees of safe passage from a government that has for years bombed civilian targets including hospitals, markets, and schools," American-Syrian doctor Zaher Sahloul is quoted as saying.

The Sunday Times reports that the UK's Foreign Office reported airstrikes hit five of the city's nine hospitals on Saturday, which the paper adds is in violation of international law.

The paper has spoken to British surgeon David Nott, who has spent time working in Aleppo. He says he is concerned for the safety of four Syrian surgeons he advises, who have been working in two underground hospitals.

"These aren't humanitarian corridors, but corridors of pretence," Dr Nott tells the Times.


Eye-catching headlines

  • A spiffing tree tribute to the real-life Jeeves - the Sunday Telegraph reports that the cricketer who inspired "one half of the greatest comic duo in literary history" has had a tree planted in his honour. Percy Jeeves's name stuck in author PG Wodehouse's memory, and ended up being applied to Bertie Wooster's valet. The real Jeeves died at the Battle of the Somme 100 years ago, without knowing his name lived on in print, the paper says.
  • Man's stoned age - the Sunday Times reveals humans began using cannabis as long as 10,000 years ago, and "not just for its psychoactive properties". Hemp was used for clothing and the seeds "could quench hunger pangs". The discovery means "drugs therefore appear to have predated alcohol" as the first beer was not brewed until about 7,000 years ago, says the paper.
  • Boozer's blocked mobiles - staying with beer, the Sun on Sunday reports on a pub in Hove, East Sussex, which has fitted a "mobile phone blocker" that means people have to talk to each other. The Gin Tub has installed a Faraday cage which disrupts mobile signals. "If they want to use their phones they can go outside with the smokers," pub boss Steve Tyler tells the paper.
  • Caterpillar on toast with algae, anyone? - after the discovery that cockroach milk is a new superfood (see Saturday's paper review), the Sun on Sunday lists other up and coming dietary oddities. These include calf brain, spirulina (a type of blue-green algae found in sub-tropical oceans and lakes), and the titular caterpillars - considered "a nutritious alternative to your roast beef dinner". I'll need some horseradish sauce.

Britons face Zika warning

The UK government's advice that pregnant women should not travel to the US state of Florida unless it is essential, features in the Sunday Express and other papers.

The Express says the updated advice comes after the first cases of the Zika virus transmitted by mosquitoes on the US mainland were reported last week.

Image copyright Getty Images

"Pregnant women are being told to scrap trips to holiday hotspot Florida after a Zika outbreak," reports the Sun on Sunday. "More than 1.5m Brits visit the southern state every year," it says, although officials in Miami believe the cases have been confined to an area north of the city.

The Sunday Telegraph adds the extra detail that the government is advising about 50,000 UK holidaymakers in Florida they should avoid unprotected sex. According to the paper, men returning from a Zika-affected area with symptoms of the virus - including itching and headaches - "should refrain from unprotected sex for a full six months to avoid onward transmission".

Travel firms are giving refunds to pregnant women going to Florida, reports the Sunday Mirror. Thomas Cook, Thomson, First Choice and British Airways "are amending travel plans for parties with mums-to-be, while Virgin Holidays is giving refunds", the paper says.

The Observer reports that there is no treatment or preventive vaccine for Zika, and while 80% of healthy people who become infected suffer no symptoms, for expectant mothers it can lead to "infants born with serious brain defects and developmental abnormalities, especially an abnormally small head in the condition called microcephaly".

The Mail on Sunday notes the UK's warning and changed travel advice comes days before the Olympic Games are due to get under way in Rio de Janeiro. "Brazil has confirmed over 1,700 cases of microcephaly linked to Zika," says the paper, "sparking fears over the impact it will have on the Games."

"Up to 10 Team GB athletes have approached a London fertility clinic to freeze their sperm ahead of the Games because of fears they may become infected," says the Sunday Times.


What the commentators say

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionJo Phillips and Dawn-Maria France review the papers on the BBC News Channel

Blessing of a curse

Pictures of author JK Rowling in winged high-heeled shoes are in several of the Sundays, as the papers cover the gala performance in London's West End of the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

Susannah Clapp in the Observer explains that Jack Thorne's production, based on a new story he wrote along with Rowling and John Tiffany, "strikes a clever balance between recognisable Pottery and a new departure".

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images/PA

"You can see how some of the magic works, and see that some of it might fail," Clapp writes. "The show is more fragile, more human, because it is not dependent on mechanical special effects. It requires co-operation, even faith, from the audience," she says.

"Following nearly eight weeks of previews, audience members were expecting a magical experience after rave reviews from critics and they were not disappointed," says the Sunday People.

The Mail on Sunday notes that the new show lasts for five hours and 19 minutes, split into two parts that can be watched separately. The paper's review says the play is a "visually astounding production" and "puts the wand into wonder".

Michael Arditti in the Sunday Express reveals that he is "the last man standing neither to have read a Harry Potter book nor seen a Harry Potter film" and that he is "better placed" to judge whether the production works.

"The answer is an undoubted yes", he says, before adding that "one cannot avoid the suspicion that the reason for the division into two parts is not purely artistic".

The Sunday Telegraph reports that bookshops opened at midnight when the script for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was officially released, as "readers in Hogwarts school uniform and brandishing wands" queued to receive their script copies "with 20 and 30-somethings who grew up with the books leading the way or introducing their own children to the franchise".


Making us click

The Sun - Summer will be an absolute scorcher and the UK will sizzle well into September

Telegraph - Sex ban recommended for British tourists in Florida after Zika outbreak

Mail Online - The reason Harry didn't ever talk about his mother: How the young prince kept his grief locked up for 16 years out of fear of upsetting Camilla

Guardian - Donald Trump attacks Muslim father's Democratic convention speech

Mirror - Skydiver leaps from 25,000ft with no parachute - live on TV