Newspaper headlines: May 'quit calls' and 'night watcher' burglar

By BBC News


As Theresa May prepares to fly to China, the papers are sending her off with the grumbles of Tory MPs ringing in her ears.

The Sun carries a by-lined piece by three senior Conservatives - Nick Boles, Sir Nicholas Soames and Robert Halfon - who offer the prime minister "three big ideas".

Image source, Getty Images

They propose the hypothecation of National Insurance to fund the health service, bringing in technical courses on a par with A-levels, and borrowing £50bn to build 100,000 houses a year.

There is a similar message from the former education secretary Nicky Morgan on the Tory news website Conservative Home.

She says the prime minister should lead the way, "driving her ministers to think big and bold".

The Guardian reports that the muttering from the backbenches has led to 40 MPs submitting letters of no-confidence in Mrs May to the chairman of the 1922 Committee.

The paper predicts that more may do so if the party performs badly at the local elections in May.

"May faces growing calls to quit", is the the front page headline in the Times. The prime minister is facing a donors' revolt and pressure by some MPs to leave Downing Street as soon as the outline of a Brexit trade deal is negotiated, it says.

The Daily Mail, though, quotes the Tory backbencher Nigel Evans, who wants the cabinet to be more supportive.

"Socks come in pairs," he tells the paper, "and Boris Johnson and Philip Hammond should each put one in their mouths."

'Live with disappointment'

He uses the paper to tell hardline Tory Eurosceptics they must "live with disappointment" and accept a softer departure from the EU.

The Sun says his move to "pan" Conservative hardliners "signals even he - a stalwart of the Tory right - is softening his stance on Brexit".

Rafael Behr, in the Guardian, is less convinced that this will be accepted by the Brexiteers.

"There is a sizeable faction," he writes, "that won't believe Britain is leaving the EU until May burns the treaty of Rome and scatters its ashes from the Queen Elizabeth tower."

The Daily Telegraph, in its leader column, says the difficulty for the Tory right is that there is a majority in Parliament - and the Cabinet - for a softer exit.

The Daily Mail reports on a police appeal in the case of a burglar dubbed the "night watcher". It is among several papers to report that a renegade soldier is the chief suspect in a series of raids on mansions in the Home Counties in which valuables worth up to £7m have been stolen.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the National Trust is putting up its membership fees.

The paper says they will increase by an average of 50p a month, to help fund the rising costs of maintaining its properties, coastline and countryside. The paper says the Trust's costs rose by 15% last year, as it spent the equivalent of £2m a week on conservation.

The Daily Mail takes the opportunity to remind us the organisation has been hit by a series of rows over the past three years. It lists a range of controversies to have befallen the Trust, including the suggestion that volunteers "were in mutiny" after they were made to wear gay pride badges to mark 50 years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

The Daily Express quotes the National Trust's membership director Sharon Pickford as saying it receives no direct government funding. "We need help from members to look after these amazing places," she says.

For one night only

Several papers carry reports of a study into the potential dangers of vaping.

The Sun reports that in laboratory tests, mice exposed to e-cigarette vapour had higher levels of DNA damage in the heart, lungs and bladder than those just breathing clean air.

Image source, PA

The Times says the New York University scientists concluded that e-cigarette smoke is carcinogenic - as their study suggests vapers have a higher risk than non-smokers of developing certain cancers.

The Guardian says other researchers have dismissed the study as "irrelevant". Peter Hajek of Queen Mary University of London tells the paper that it's a false alarm, and may put people off switching from smoking to vaping.

Finally, in a development that might prove the truth of Charles Kingsley's old adage about romance being dead, it is reported that Greggs the bakers is to offer a Valentine's Day dinner.

The High Street chain, says the Sun, is turning selected shops into candlelit restaurants "for one night only", with its traditional favourites - including cheese and onion pastry parcels - brought to tables by staff.

Image source, Greggs/PA

The Daily Mail runs through the delicacies on offer, which include canapes of miniature sausage rolls, steak and blue cheese en croute and a Mexican chicken chipotle spoon.

A table for two, the paper notes, will cost £15 - or £7.50 a head.