Newspaper review: Storm warnings and 'rivers of blood'

The row over immigration heats up further in Monday's papers, with several saying Vince Cable has likened comments by the prime minister to Enoch Powell's so-called "rivers of blood" speech in 1968.

The i says the coalition is at "breaking point" while the Daily Telegraph says Conservative MPs have described the Lib Dem business secretary's remarks as "offensive" and "unacceptable".

Elsewhere, a number of front pages feature warnings about the potentially damaging storms looming over parts of the UK.

The Daily Express, known for its love of a good - or more accurately, bad - weather story says Britain is set to be "ravaged" by 100mph winds and torrential rain.

Discussing the papers for the BBC's News Channel, the Daily Telegraph's Lucy Cavendish commented on the Independent's front page exclusive, which says Home Secretary Theresa May is stripping British citizenship from people who leave the UK to fight in Syria.

"This is something she said she was going to do... It is something that people have known about - it's not, sort of, shock horror, this is actually happening," she said.

Tom Bergin, investigative reporter at Reuters, added: "They changed the rules in April to make it easier to actually do this and now it seems that the amount of passports being withdrawn has increased."

Cold comforts

Image caption The crew of HMS Protector pose for a Christmas photograph while on operation in Antarctica. They're carrying out survey work and patrols


Columnists - ex-cricketers among them - offer a range of views on the decision of England spinner Graeme Swann to quit all forms of the game midway through an Ashes series.

Image caption Many papers show the Queen arriving in Sandringham ahead of the Royal Family Christmas knees-up - the first with baby Prince George

Former England captain Michael Vaughan tells the Daily Telegraph Swann has absolutely "not jumped ship". He adds: "He has got out at the right time and by doing so he has made it easy for the selectors to move on to the next era." Ian Botham, in the Daily Mirror, agrees, saying "we should all wish him well... and be happy for the effort he has given the game".

"To call time is honourable," declares the Times' leader. It says "bowing out of public life when you believe you have accomplished your best is a principle to be generally encouraged rather than condemned."

Gideon Brooks, in the Daily Express, sums it up thus: "Graeme Swann walked out of cricket the way he played it... with a smile on his face, a few good one-liners and not an ounce of regret."

But Jonathan McEvoy, in the Daily Mail, vehemently disagrees, claiming Swann has "treated the privilege of a lifetime as a commodity that can be discarded at will, chucked in when the going gets tough".

Robin Scott-Elliot, writing in the Independent, agrees. "The end was nighish," he says, but by quitting when he has, Swann "has put himself before the team of which he has been such an illustrious member".

Immigration 'panic'

Like Nigella Lawson, the debate over immigration - specifically from Bulgaria and Romania - is never far from the headlines at the moment.

The latest intervention prompting discussion is that of Vince Cable - whom the Daily Mirror calls a "sane voice" in the row. The paper does, however, acknowledge it may be "a step too far" to compare David Cameron to Enoch Powell.

That's a spectacular understatement in the eyes of many papers, including the Sun, which says "there's nothing racist about wanting to toughen immigration controls". It goes on: "That's the view of the overwhelming majority of Brits. Or does Vince Cable think we are all racist?"

The Daily Mail echoes that sentiment, accusing Mr Cable and his party leaders Nick Clegg of having a "sneering, only-we-know-best attitude towards the British public" when it comes to immigration.

The Daily Telegraph is also scathing, accusing Mr Cable of "a spectacular departure from sense and proportion". It says that far from being, as he likes to claim, "the voice of sweet reason in British politics... he is, in fact, a worthy heir of Paddy Ashdown - the latest in a long line of sanctimonious Lib Dems."

The Guardian, though, is full of praise for Mr Cable's "principled" words, saying Mr Cameron "is not displaying anything approaching the level of leadership that is required of a responsible prime minister on these issues". It says Lib Dems are "right to challenge the anti-immigrant panic before it gets worse".

Fine, or fine mess?

Unsurprisingly, almost all the papers are unhappy at news, from the RAC Foundation, that councils are making record surpluses from parking charges and penalty notices.

The Daily Express says the local high street in the UK is "on its knees" and councils desperately need to make life easier for shoppers. But the editorial says that for councils, parking "has become an easy source of income that disguises their waste and incompetence". It adds: "Instead of treating drivers as cash cows, councils should be made to see them as a wealth-creating asset."

One paper does go against the grain, though. Nigel Morris, in the Independent, says motorists don't realise that "much of the cash they put into ticket machines is ultimately used to repair local roads and upgrade public transport. It simply cannot be used to reduce council debts or subsidise other services." He says councils who try to use parking "as a covert way of raising revenue" could be prosecuted.

Farage 'attack'

Defence minister Anna Soubry has had to apologise after saying UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage "looks like somebody has put their finger up his bottom".

Image caption Nigel Farage at the 2013 UKIP conference

The papers, even those who criticise Ms Soubry, make sure they have dug through their picture archives to find a photograph of Nigel Farage looking suitably startled.

The Sun says the Tory MP "has a history of opening her mouth before engaging her brain". Its leader points out that David Cameron may once have called UKIP a bunch of "fruit cakes, loonies and closet racists", but after realising it was "hardly political genius to insult his own potential voters", he has "laid off the personal attacks ever since".

Nigel Farage himself, writing in the Independent, says her "half-hearted apology... is clearly not genuine", adding: "I look forward to standing a UKIP candidate in her constituency in 2015."

Storm brewing

Monday's papers compete to come up with the most dramatic language possible to describe the storm coming our way.

The Sun calls it a "weather bomb", explaining it as a situation in which "air pressure dramatically falls causing hurricane-strength winds". The Daily Express, meanwhile, says winds and rain will "ravage" the country.

The Daily Mirror is worried that bad weather "may keep families apart when they should be together".

But the Times tries to strike an upbeat note, saying that "for all the exhausted travellers recovering with a mince pie and a sherry, there was just the hint of a possibility that [Christmas Eve] could bring something more festive." The Met Office says there's "a chance some of us could see some snow".

Celebrating life

Image caption Briton Greig Trout has turned the idea of a bucket list on its head, compiling a list of "101 things to do when you survive" after beating cancer twice

'Cold War scene'

The face of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, vocal Kremlin critic, appears in many papers, including the Financial Times, which was among a small group of news organisations invited to his first press conference after being freed from jail.

"In a dark suit and navy tie... he looked more like an executive between meetings than a man who 48 hours earlier had been in a prison colony in the remote forests of northern Russia," the FT says. The paper feels he "betrayed little anger or desire for revenge against the man most Russians believe put him there: President Vladimir Putin".

The Independent describes the scene at the press conference as "reminiscent of the Cold War", and it says that "despite his elation at being released, Mr Khodorkovsky clearly still felt intimidated by the Russian authorities". The paper believes "he went out of his way to avoid any strong criticism of Mr Putin".

Matthew Syed, meanwhile, writing in the Times, says the former oligarch "was given a reprieve apparently to boost Putin's liberal credentials in the build-up to the Sochi Olympics". He adds: "Some hope."

Poster power

Image caption Many papers feature a poster from Church Action on Poverty claiming thousands are going hungry in Britain because of benefit cuts

Making people click

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