The papers: Tory Eurosceptics' revolt, and gas price "rip-off"

Much of Monday's political coverage is devoted to the Conservative Party, UKIP and the question of whether one will throttle the other.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption George Osborne is said to be "thinking the unthinkable" about the EU

The Independent says as many as 100 Eurosceptic Conservative MPs will defy David Cameron by putting the fact that they intend to vote against EU membership into their personal manifestos for the next general election.

The paper notes a parallel to the events of 1997 when Conservative election candidates - including aspiring MP David Cameron - defied the then party leader John Major to issue manifestos opposing British membership of the euro.

The Indy suggests the "manifesto rebels" of next year's vote "hope that UKIP 'might go soft' on Tory candidates who promise to vote to leave the EU whatever the outcome of the post-election negotiations".

One Eurosceptic Tory planning to rebel told the paper that whatever Mr Cameron promised regarding Europe would not sway the public or MPs because he was "not to be trusted".

Alongside Eurosceptic MPs, the prime minister faces a "deliberate provocation" from the largest Tory political website ConservativeHome, which is calling for the UK to "reclaim its borders" by rejecting the EU's freedom of movement principle. Instead it advocates a points-based immigration system.

The Times notes Mr Cameron has "refused to engage with the idea because he sees it as an unrealistic target for his EU renegotiation strategy".

Inside the paper, an article suggests that the Chancellor George Osborne has "hardened" his position on the EU to a degree where he no longer sees a British exit as "unthinkable".

His biographer Janan Ganesh says Mr Osborne recognises a British exit would not just "enthuse the crazies and bores", and he sees the UK position as the largest country outside the eurozone as "increasingly invidious", with the country being left outside the "decision-making crucible" of the community.

The Daily Mail ponders the Conservatives' prospects in the forthcoming Clacton by-election, where polls suggest the former Tory who defected to UKIP, Douglas Carswell, could win by a landslide.

It quotes the former deputy speaker Nigel Evans, who thinks the party should "sit out" the contest.

But in the Daily Telegraph, the headline suggests the Tories will fight "tooth and nail" to beat Mr Carswell.

A source tells the paper Clacton will be "bombarded" by visits from high-level Conservatives in the same way Newark was before its by-election.

"If the Conservatives win this by-election, UKIP will be blown out the water," the source adds.

However, Leo McKinstry, writing in the Daily Express, says the Conservatives are on the ropes.

"The meltdown in the Tory Party, whose grassroots have shrivelled under Cameron, could happen with astonishing speed."

McKinstry illustrates his point by noting that in the 1920s, the Liberals went from governing party to "minor irrelevance" in the space of a few elections.


Sad stories

The weekend's big story - the hunt for, followed by the discovery of, missing five-year-old Ashya King - continues to play big in Monday's press.

The papers reflect on the fact that Ashya's parents removed the boy from a Hampshire hospital where his brain tumour was being treated, against medical advice and are now under arrest in Spain.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Ashya King and his father Brett

They took Ashya to the country to raise funds for an alternative cancer treatment available in the Czech Republic.

The Guardian says Ashya's parents, Ben and Naghemeh King now face an extradition hearing aimed at returning the family to the UK. They are being held on suspicion of neglect for removing Ashya from hospital without consent.

Sarah Boseley, writing in the paper, says a "lack of investment and scientific attention to the really aggressive cancers that kill and damage small children means that there will be many more sad stories like that of the King family".

In the Daily Mail, Ashya's eldest sibling Danny says the family is "being treated worse than human traffickers".

The 23-year-old tells the paper: "There are a lot of people who don't like what we've done.

"But you've got to know what it is like to have a little brother in hospital and the doctor saying to you he's going to die in four months.

"We're just hoping for the best."

The Daily Telegraph notes that donations are flooding in to help fund the expensive proton beam treatment the King family want for Ashya.

Libby Purves, in an article in the Times, asks whether "medical arrogance" has split up the King family.

She notes the little boy's rare form of cancer offers him "very little hope under any regime", but adds "if these are his last weeks, he should not be wondering where his mother and father are".

Purves says the case raises a troubling question, not about the merits of differing treatments, but "about communication".

"Did the hospital... cease gentle persuasion and threaten that any more arguing would result in a protection order, a ban from Ashya's bedside?" she asks.


'Half the bill'

Energy costs have been in the news a lot in recent years, but the front page of the Daily Mail may get some householders heated up in itself.

The paper claims that falls in wholesale gas prices to 50% of their value six months ago have not been reflected in the bills the energy companies ask their customers to pay.

In fact, the paper says, customers are charged "at least three times the price their suppliers pay for gas".

Richard Lloyd, of consumer group Which?, tells the paper "with energy costs the top consumer concern, the competition authority must leave no stone unturned in its investigation of the market and must establish the truth behind our energy prices".

A British Gas spokesman tells the paper: "The wholesale cost of energy is now less than half the bill, which partly explains why the wholesale price can fall, but overall prices don't.

"We also have other costs, such as regulated transport and distribution costs, that are rising."

The paper notes that nPower has said Labour's pledge to freeze energy costs if they win next year's election is a factor in their decision not to drop prices it charges.

But Labour's Caroline Flint tells the Mail: "This sort of behaviour is exactly why we need Labour's price freeze until 2017 and reforms to the energy market, including a new power for the regulator to force companies to cut their prices when wholesale costs fall."


Cristobal

But will householders have to turn that gas on soon? The answer from Fleet Street (at the risk of tempting fate) is no.

The Daily Star says Britain is due for a "sizzler" this week, which will leave some of the country "hotter than Morocco".

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Image caption Newspaper sub-editors everywhere are getting ready to deploy the Phew! What A Scorcher line...

The paper notes our old meteorological friend - a "Spanish plume" of hot air - will "trigger a seven-day scorcher".

The south and Midlands will see the warmest temperatures, the Star adds, but "even Scotland" is set to reach 21C.

The Daily Express says the warm spell will be triggered in part thanks to ex-hurricane Cristobal, which thankfully missed the UK, but did drag high pressure in its wake.

The Met Office's Krista Mitchell tells the Express: "Temperatures are going to rise day on day and will be above-average for this time of year, although it could feel quite muggy and quite mild."

If you fancy a flutter, the paper notes you can get 12/1 on September's record of 35.6C - set in 1906 - will be broken.

Although celebrating the late rise in temperatures, the Daily Telegraph urges caution over talk of an Indian Summer.

The Met Office defines the term to mean "a warm, calm spell of weather occurring in autumn, especially in October and November", the paper notes.

Ms Mitchell notes that "unstable conditions" could return by next weekend. Best get the winter woollies on standby then!

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