UK

Newspaper headlines: Britons in virus airlift and HS2 cost fury

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The fate of more than 200 British nationals effectively trapped in the Chinese city of Wuhan is the main story for The Mail on Sunday.

It says the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, is considering an emergency airlift in light of the continuing coronavirus outbreak.

An anonymous government source tells the paper that leaving people in Wuhan "could prove to be a death sentence", but says a "number of things need to fall into place on the Chinese side" before the UK commits to a rescue effort.

One British citizen, Kharn Lambert, explains how his visiting 81-year-old grandmother - who has a debilitating lung condition - is too frightened to leave his home. "She needs about 18 different medicines each day", he says, "and if she caught this virus, I'm afraid it would kill her".

Several papers report that Boris Johnson will meet senior ministers in the coming week to decide whether to abandon the controversial HS2 high-speed rail line.

The Observer suggests scrapping it would cost at least £12bn in write-offs and compensation, and put large construction companies tasked with building the project in financial jeopardy.

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Image caption The construction site for the HS2 high speed rail scheme in Euston, London, taken in August 2019

The Sunday Telegraph says former senior figures involved in HS2 have given signed statements to the Prime Minister's advisers, alleging that the government-owned firm behind the line covered up spiralling costs on multiple occasions.

The Sunday Mirror leads on an interview with a young rugby player attacked by the serial rapist, Reynhard Sinaga, who was handed a 30-year prison term earlier this month for assaults on dozens of men.

The 18-year-old describes how he was drugged, and woke up disorientated to find Sinaga on top of him - before a struggle ensued. "I started hitting him", the victim recalls, "and he dropped to the floor. I thought I might have killed him."

According to The Sunday Times, the outgoing Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has mooted the possibility of visiting Iraq before he steps down in April - as he seeks to secure his legacy. The paper says the symbolic trip would "promote anti-imperialism" and show that Labour could not return to the politics of Tony Blair.

It's understood Mr Corbyn will also tour seats in the Midlands and the north of England that the party lost in December's general election, as well as establishing a "socialist charter on human rights".

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The Sun on Sunday reveals an unlikely new business venture for the Queen guitarist, Brian May.

The 72-year-old musician has started selling women's sportswear on his personal website, decorated with multi-coloured guitars which - according to the PR material - highlight his "consummate artistic talents".

The Sun sums up the story with the headline: "All I hear is Radio Bra Bra".

The Observer says a three-year study funded by the Home Office has concluded that the government's approach to tackling radicalisation among young people is so flawed, it amounts to "madness".

The research reportedly suggests that "positive psychology" is much more effective than the stance adopted by the home secretary, Priti Patel, who favours longer prison sentences for terrorist offenders and increased monitoring.

The study is due to be made public on Wednesday - but the paper says ministers' enthusiasm for the project has cooled since Amber Rudd left the Home Office in 2018.

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An investigation by The Sunday Telegraph has found that some NHS hospitals are refusing to give epidurals to women in labour - even when they've explicitly asked for pain relief.

The paper says it's identified six health Trusts where women pleading for pain medication were denied it, in breach of official guidelines.

One mother tells the paper she was repeatedly told "it's not called labour for nothing" and it was "meant to be hard work".

The health secretary, Matt Hancock, has promised to investigate the allegations to ensure women's choices are being respected.

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The Sunday Mirror says betting companies that sponsor football teams are considering removing their logos from club shirts - as they try to allay fears that they're fuelling gambling addiction.

It describes the voluntary move as a "symbolic gesture" aimed at preventing a "wider crackdown on betting advertising throughout the sport".

Half of teams in the Premier League feature betting firm logos on their shirts, along with all but seven sides in the Championship.

"The industry feels it has its back against the wall", one academic tells the Mirror, "and this could be a way out".

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Finally, according to The Mail on Sunday, Nick Robinson could be asked to present the Today programme from Salford in future - as part of a renewed drive to make the BBC less London-centric.

One unnamed source claims that a move to Manchester would offer a "much more in-depth coverage of life in that part of the country", although another insider says it would send out "entirely the wrong signal" if the BBC went ahead with the change - only for Mr Robinson or any other presenter to spend their time "interviewing people in London on the phone".

The corporation has declined to comment.