Newspaper review: PM in 'battle' or 'cave-in' on Brexit?

Theresa May Image copyright PA

Theresa May's decision to reveal the government's Brexit plan while asking MPs to vote on its timetable for triggering the UK's departure from the EU dominates many of the front pages.

The Daily Telegraph's masthead is superimposed over a picture of the prime minister talking to sailors aboard HMS Ocean under the blue skies of Bahrain. Its headline reads: "May goes into battle for Brexit."

The paper says MPs and Remain campaigners have spent months plotting how to undermine the result of the referendum - while saying they support the will of the people. Now they will have to reveal their intentions.

The Express says that by giving MPs a vote on her timetable for Brexit, Mrs May has turned the tables in stunning fashion - challenging them to respect the wishes of the people.

The paper characterises today's Commons vote on the government's timetable for triggering Article 50 as "Brexit Day". Finally - the paper declares - it is time for MPs to put up or shut up.

'A showdown'

For the Daily Mail, the debate will be seen as a big moment at Westminster because it is the first opportunity that MPs have had to vote for or against triggering Article 50.

According to the paper, insiders say the aim is to "smoke out" MPs who - under cover of demanding more information about the Brexit process - actually want to keep Britain inside the EU.

As the Daily Mail puts it, Mrs May has called their bluff. It describes the vote as a showdown.

In the Sun's words, she's laid down the gauntlet to MPs. It says the prime minister's opponents should stop pretending their concerns are about democracy and admit that their true aim is reversing the referendum result.

The Financial Times says Mrs May's aim is to "flush out" diehard Remain supporters.

The Guardian says MPs will accept the government amendment, as they do not dispute the idea of triggering Article 50. But, it adds, they still intend to cause a headache for Mrs May during the debate by pushing for a comprehensive White Paper before the end of January detailing her plan for Brexit.

The Daily Mirror suggests the prime minister has risked humiliating defeat by "caving in" to Labour demands to publish her Brexit plans. Her U-turn does her a favour, it says - and the sooner she involves the public, trade unions, businesses and MPs the better.


Vaughan's watch ends

Image caption Peter Vaughan, who played Sir Ensor Doone in the adaptation of Lorna Doone, has died

There are many affectionate tributes to British actor Peter Vaughan, best known for roles in Game of Thrones and Porridge, who has died aged 93.

The Telegraph remembers him as a masterly exponent of menace on stage, screen and television for more than half a century.

The Guardian says that, with his bulky figure, small eyes and projecting lower jaw, he usually played the type of character you would not want to bump into on a dark night in a darker alley.

'Eye-watering salaries'

According to the Times's front-page story, hospitals have been ordered to end "eye-wateringly high" payments to interim bosses after a watchdog found that salaries of more than £400,000 have become routine.

A letter to hospital leaders by the regulator, NHS Improvement, seen by the paper, says temporary managers must be replaced by promotion of hospitals' own staff or secondments from elsewhere in the health service. The letter adds that interim staff are not monitored properly and hospitals have little idea whether they are any good.

Surrogacy joy

"Mum gives birth to her own grandson," is the Mirror's main headline. It reports that Julie Bradford acted as a surrogate for her daughter after she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Jessica Jenkins was to undergo chemotherapy treatment and was told she could never have children.

The story appears in many other papers - and the Daily Mail says that, desperate to become a mother, Mrs Jenkins had her eggs frozen, hoping she could use a surrogate one day. Three years later, it was her mother who stepped forward. The little boy, Jack, was born last Friday.

Spinning back in time

Image caption Listeners spent £2.4m on vinyl and £2.1m on downloads, according to many papers

Several papers report that sales of vinyl records have overtaken those of album downloads for the first time. Listeners spent £2.4m pounds on vinyl last week and £2.1m on downloads. The Daily Mail says it is all the more surprising because albums bought on vinyl are considerably more expensive than downloads. But the paper adds that there is huge nostalgia for vinyl and many people are willing to pay for something they can hold.

Post-Brexit Scottish referendum?

According to the Times, ministers are considering doing a deal with the Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that would give her the power to hold a second independence referendum - but only after Brexit.

They would argue that the Brexit deal has to be secured first so that Scots know what they are deciding on in a referendum.

However - the paper goes on - it puts Ms Sturgeon in the unwelcome position of having to fight for independence after the UK has left the EU and therefore potentially without being able to play the card of continuing membership for Scotland.

'Home for Christmas'

Under the headline, "A victory for common sense", the Daily Mail leads on the decision to grant a fresh appeal to the former Royal Marine, Alexander Blackman, who was jailed for murdering an insurgent in Afghanistan.

The paper - which has led a campaign to have his case reconsidered - describes the ruling as a major victory for its readers, who gave £800,000 to his legal fund. It holds out the hope that, since the appeal to reduce his conviction to manslaughter is unlikely to be heard for months, Blackman will be freed at once on bail so he can be home for Christmas.

End of polite interaction?

Finally, the Guardian is lukewarm about a plan by the online retailer Amazon to open its first physical grocery store early next year that does away with check-out staff, tills and queues.

Customers would simply swipe an app on their smartphone as they enter the store - then sensors would track items they take off the shelves and charge their Amazon account when they walk out.

The paper says the benefit to those in a rush is obvious - but it means another lost opportunity for social contact, in the queue with other shoppers, cashiers or staff overseeing erratic self-checkouts.

In the paper's words, such connections can be life-saving for the chronically lonely and good for others too, reminding us that polite interaction matters as much as getting what we want this second.