BBC News

Newspaper headlines: Short lockdown 'on the cards' as pressure grows on PM

By BBC News

image captionMany of the front pages focus on Sir Keir Starmer's calls for a short national lockdown

There is plenty of analysis of Sir Keir Starmer's call for a short lockdown across England in the papers.

The Guardian sees it as a "significant escalation" of the Labour leader's criticism of Boris Johnson. With the headline "lockdown battle begins", the Daily Telegraph says Sir Keir's intervention suggests he believes the prime minister will ultimately be left with no choice but to impose a so-called "circuit breaker", making it appear that Downing Street is following Labour's lead.

According to the Sun, there is a "growing belief" in Mr Johnson's inner circle that another lockdown is inevitable, with one unnamed close cabinet colleague telling the paper there is a 60% chance the prime minister will bring in the measure over half-term later this month.

For Huffpost UK, Sir Keir's demand was "undeniably a big moment in the politics of the pandemic" - even though it says the Labour leader was "stunningly vague" about the costing of his proposal.

Politics is often about owning the future, the website argues, "and if this comes off Starmer can say he owned it, even for a few weeks". Mr Johnson, by contrast, is said to have "lost his boldness" in the eyes of many voters who backed him on Brexit.

However, writing in the Daily Mail, Simon Walters says the prime minister has turned his back on the scientists for the sake of the economy and urges him to "hold his nerve".

The Times and the Financial Times both highlight a paper - due to be published later but yet to be peer reviewed - which argues that a full two-week lockdown could save thousands of lives.

The modelling - by two of the government's scientific advisors - shows that a shutdown including school closures and stay-at-home orders could cut the number of coronavirus-related deaths over the rest of the year by as much as 49%. The FT says the authors argue this type of "precautionary break" could be used again over Christmas or the spring half-term to buy time to roll-out other measures such as contact tracing.

A number of papers again express concern at the cost of constructing the HS2 railway, after it emerged overspending on the project has climbed to £800m.

According to the Telegraph, a written statement to Parliament has revealed the increase is partly down to the need to remove more asbestos than expected in buildings along the route.

The Daily Mail says the latest sum will "alarm critics" because the government said in February the budget for the high-speed link had been "comprehensively reset", following years of complaints about soaring costs.

image captionThe Who's Pete Townshend often destroyed his guitars on stage

Pete Townshend became widely known for destroying his guitars on stage - but the Times reports that The Who musician did it carefully so he could repair them.

The band's singer, Roger Daltrey, has told a podcast that fans came to expect a smashed guitar at every gig, but the group were in debt until the 1970s because their early shows made so little money.

So Townshend worked out that as long as the neck of the guitar didn't break, the body could be glued back together, saving the cost of buying new instruments. "It was costly in glue," Daltrey is quoted as saying.