The papers: 'Deal to save the Union'

Alex Salmond next to a giant Killie Pie Image copyright EPA
Image caption It's all smiles for Alex Salmond as his party gears up for the final lap of the referendum campaign

With 11 days until Scotland votes on whether to stay in the United Kingdom, Sunday's papers are awash with stories pointing to the "Yes" to independence campaign's rapid gaining on the "No" Better Together pro-union side.

The Observer says a "federal future" is to be offered to Scots as an incentive to boost the numbers voting to stay within the UK.

Such an arrangement, the paper says, would offer Scotland more devolved powers including over tax and budgets, "but with the financial security of staying in the UK and EU".

The offer - "part of last ditch efforts by no campaigners, who have been spooked by a dramatic narrowing of their poll lead" - is expected within days an unnamed government minister tells the Observer.

In a front page comment in the paper, Will Hutton argues that the "independence bandwagon" must be derailed, or "it is the death of the liberal establishment before the atavistic forces of nationalism and ethnicity...

"Britain will cease as an idea. We will all be diminished."

Just how far that bandwagon is from derailing is made clear in the Sunday Times' lead, which showcases a YouGov poll for the paper giving the "Yes" campaign a narrow lead for the first time.

The survey found 51% of respondents who had made their mind up were in favour of independence. The paper says this "overturns a 22-point lead for the Better Together campaign in the space of a month".

The UK's national papers are unified in their opposition to a split, and the Sunday Times' economics editor David Smith argues that a Yes vote "will usher in a banana republic of tax rises and turmoil".

The paper also adds that Buckingham Palace sources have assured it that the Queen is "horrified" by the prospect of the break-up of the Union.

In the Independent on Sunday, Tory MP (and Scot) Rory Stewart, who represents the English Penrith and the Border constituency, says a Yes vote would be a "constitutional crisis".

"It's such a big thing I don't think people have begun to process what it would mean.

"It would mean the next 10 years would be spent gazing inwards, negotiating about currency, negotiating about debt rather than reaching out to engage the world."

The Mail on Sunday paints a picture of border guards and queues for passport controls between England and Scotland.

The paper quotes an interview with Ed Miliband with their Scottish sister paper where he raises the prospect. The Yes campaign has said this is a "scare story".

The Mail's opinion column says "there is no such thing as a 'velvet divorce', especially when the marriage has lasted as long as this one".

Mr Miliband's predecessor Gordon Brown writes in the Sunday Mirror, urging the English, Welsh and Northern Irish to "shout loud and clear" that they share the same values and concerns as Scots.

"What our ancestors built up, no nationalist should be allowed to split asunder," he adds.

Ian Martin writing in the Sunday Telegraph says the SNP are "promising voters the world without mentioning who will pay the bills".


Charm offensive

The majority of Britons support British military action against Islamic State (IS) jihadists in Iraq and Syria, the Sunday Telegraph says.

It says a survey it commissioned from pollsters Opinium Research suggests two-thirds support the option, with just 20% saying the UK should not be involved in any way.

The poll would be music to the ears of former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, who, in an interview in the Sunday Times, argues for an "all-out attack" on IS.

The 91-year-old politician, who the paper calls "an influential force in American foreign policy for four decades", says "there can't be any debate any more about fighting them.

Image copyright Crown copyright
Image caption Tornado GR4s jets

"I would not make any distinction between Iraq and Syria," he adds.

The Sunday Express says "sources" have told it that the RAF is "primed and ready" to target IS positions in 14 days.

The paper says up to 12 RAF Tornado GR4s jets could join the US-led "core coalition" in the action.

The Independent on Sunday says David Cameron is embarked on a "charm offensive" to win Arab backing for military strikes against the jihadists.

"Meetings will almost certainly be held with countries including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar," it explains.

Interviewed in the Sun, the Chancellor, George Osborne, says he will "spend whatever it takes" to defeat IS, who he says are a "direct threat to UK interests".

In its opinion column, juxtaposed with the interview, the Sun says the money needed to fight IS shows "just how wrong it was to cut the defence budget in the first place".

A Sunday Times story illustrates the bite of those cuts.

The paper says British warships could be at sea for up to nine months as budget cuts have left the Navy with fewer ships to patrol with, and a shortage of sailors to crew those ships.

It also claims that the UK could have only 36 Challenger battle tanks at full battle readiness.


Arbitrary

The Sunday Telegraph leads with an interview with the interestingly named Marcial Boo.

Mr Boo is the man at the helm of Ipsa - the independent body overseeing MPs pay and expenses.

He tells the paper that parliamentarians' renumeration should rise next year by 10%, to take it to £74,000 per annum.

"There are lots and lots of professionals in public life and in the private sector who earn a lot more than that - so it is not an excessive amount of money at all," says Mr Boo, who himself earns £120,000 a year.

The paper says the prime minister has said such a rise would be "wrong" and "simply unacceptable" - and has threatened to abolish Ipsa, the body thatMr Boo leads.

But in his interview, Mr Boo says MPs salaries have fallen behind comparable public-sector workers and politicians overseas.

"Parliament has created an independent body to set MPs' pay. we have gone through the process in a really rigorous way. It is not an arbitrary figure," he adds.

Some might disagree, as the Sunday Mirror points out that UK workers have "suffered the biggest plunge in pay among EU member states since David Cameron came to power".

It quotes figures from independent House of Commons experts suggesting that take-home wages in Britain have dropped by 4.3% in four years.

The paper's table shows only workers in Portugal, Cyprus and Greece have suffered larger income falls.

Labour's shadow chief secretary to the treasury Chris Leslie tells the paper: "George Osborne ... complacently claims the economy is fixed. These figures show hard-working people are still not feeling the benefit."

In the Mirror's sister publication, the Sunday People, there is news that the unions are to hit David Cameron with a series of strikes in the run-up to next year's general election.

"They are furious that pay for their 6.5m members is not going up in line with Britain's improving economy," the paper says.


Grisly

The Mail on Sunday claims to have solved one of Britain's most enduring murder mysteries - the 126-year puzzle over the identity of Jack the Ripper.

After teasing its readers with a line-up of six possible suspects in the 1888 murders of six women in east London, the paper "unveils" the killer as Aaron Kosminski.

Image copyright Getty Images

It says "Jack" was identified by businessman and Ripper historian Russell Edwards, who had purchased a shawl found at the scene of the grisly murder of Catherine Eddowes, the serial killer's second victim.

Edwards, the paper explains, teamed up with a top Finnish DNA expert and analysed blood samples from the shawl, which proved a perfect match for one of Catherine Eddowe's present day descendants.

Having "authenticated" the garment, the scientist teamed up with another expert to establish DNA traces of Kosminski, a Polish Jew who had arrived in London in the early 1880s and was working as a barber in the east end. A probable sufferer from schizophrenia, he was committed to mental asylums after the Ripper murders and died 29 years later.

A British descendant of Kosminski's sister provided a DNA swab which gave a perfect match.

Dr Jari Louhelainen, the Liverpool-based Finnish scientist, says the finding was "one hell of a masterpiece".

And Mr Edwards writes: "After months of innovative, painstaking work, we had finally got the killer."

Other amateur detectives might conclude that the Ripper mystery may yet live on and further theories come to light.

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