The papers: Cameron's plea, and 'bloodbath in paradise'

Just two days to go before Scotland goes to the polls in a vote which will determine the future of the 307-year-old United Kingdom.

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The newspapers are full of David Cameron's "emotional appeal" - delivered in a speech in Aberdeen - to the Scots not to reject that Union on Thursday.

The Sun detects that the prime minister appeared "on the verge of tears" as he urged his audience "not to rip Scotland from the rest of the UK", and predicted "a painful divorce" if they did.

The paper says Mr Cameron continued: "Don't think, 'I'm frustrated with politics right now, so I'll walk out the door and never come back.'

"If you don't like me - I won't be here for ever. If you don't like this government - it won't last for ever. But if you leave the UK - that will be for ever."

Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail says Mr Cameron's speech was "as sugary at times as a foreman's cuppa".

Reflecting on the the PM's future, Letts says: "It struck me... that this was the speech of a man who might well be about to do something precipitous on Friday if the vote goes against him."

The Times says the Better Together campaign has been "outgunned" by the Yes Scotland camp in the final 48 hours of campaigning.

The paper says the pro-independence side will deliver 1.1 million more leaflets and have 100 more billboards making their case than the unionists.

The Guardian publishes an ICM poll which finds that 56% of English and Welsh voters view the prospect of Scotland leaving the UK "with sadness".

But as Patrick Wintour in the paper says, the sadness might soon turn to anger as separation negotiations take place.

"If there is a bidding war after a Yes vote, it would be between Labour and the Conservatives on which party is toughest with the Scottish government.

"There will be few English or Welsh votes in 2015 in adopting a reasonable tone with Salmond," he argues.

England's reaction is something most papers examine.

Philip Johnston in the Daily Telegraph says the cry "but what about England?" will become much louder after Thursday.

Johnston argues against a "Balkanised England" of "largely self-governing regions" but seconds an idea from Tory MP John Redwood.

"He proposed that English MPs at Westminster - ie most of them - should meet independently when tackling issues that affect England alone, including all fiscal matters.

"Effectively, when the House of Commons was dealing with English affairs it would be sitting as an English parliament."

Polly Toynbee, in the Guardian, is also unenthusiastic about a federal Britain.

"The logic of localism risks leading in the end to less national identity and less fair distribution of wealth.

"Good politics will revive if strong ideas hold the imagination, keeping enough people together with common goals," she adds.

To read what the Scottish papers have to say, click here.


Brutal

Potential British action against Islamic State (IS) extremists - and the fate of threatened hostage Alan Henning - is Tuesday's other big story.

The Times headlines Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond's admission that Britain is "powerless" to rescue Mr Henning because UK intelligence services do not know where he is being held.

The Daily Telegraph says government whips are talking to "30 rebellious Conservative MPs" to ensure parliamentary backing for airstrikes against IS targets - a case Mr Cameron is expected to make to the UN next week.

Image copyright AP
Image caption IS gunmen took over Raqqa in eastern Syria in the middle of last year, and are thought to be holding Western hostages there

But the paper says that House of Commons analysis has suggested that military action against IS forces in Syria, which has not been ruled out, could be "illegal" unless Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad consented to it.

The Independent says Mr Cameron will join President Obama at the UN to "lobby for an international coalition" against IS.

"A vote on military action is unlikely to be taken. Russia, an ally of Syria, could veto air strikes in the country," it adds.

On its front page, the paper says an al-Qaeda affiliated Syrian rebel group had implored IS to release Mr Henning, shortly after he was seized after crossing the Turkish border with an aid convoy last Christmas.

The paper writes that the intervention is evidence that "the depravity exhibited by Isis is now repelling Muslims of all views and backgrounds", as "even the terrorist group behind the 11 September attacks on the US in 2001 decided that kidnapping the aid-convoy volunteer was a step too far".

The Guardian says that civilians in the Syrian city of Raqqa - which IS is using as its de facto capital - fear Western airstrikes will bring further destruction to their community.

"We are afraid that after the US air strikes, the regime will take control of the city. Assad is a criminal and his regime is brutal," one resident tells the paper.

Another says "Some people are fleeing the city, as they know civilians are going to be the real victims for these strikes. Raqqa will be completely destroyed.

"People in Raqqa have to deal with two evils, Isis or Assad. Which one is better? I don't know the answer."


Higher risks

The brutal murder of two young British tourists on an island resort in Thailand is front-page news in many papers.

The Daily Mirror says local police are looking for a man who was seen with Hannah Witheridge and David Miller before they were killed.

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The man, believed to be British, is thought to have left Koh Tao by ferry directly after the murders.

The Mirror says "police believe the three Brits did not know each other when they first arrived on the island separately at the end of August but could have become friends later on.

"They met while staying at the same seaside hotel and arranged to go out together on Sunday night," it adds.

The Daily Mail says Miss Witheridge was holidaying in Thailand with a group of three female friends, while Mr Miller had arrived with other British backpackers.

The paper notes "violent attacks on foreigners are relatively rare in Thailand, which is heavily reliant on its tourism industry, but embassies have warned of higher risks at beach resorts".

In the Independent, travel correspondent Simon Calder writes "the deaths take to 13 the number of British visitors to Thailand killed in the past five years.

"One murder is, of course, one too many. Considering that four million Britons travelled to Thailand in the past five years, those 13 killings might appear individually tragic but statistically insignificant.

"But if the same proportion of murders took place in Spain, we would be reporting 40 killings a year there.

"Thailand is a beautiful, welcoming nation that has remained popular with Brits through decades of political upheavals.

"But it has a serious problem with the apparent ability of gangs to flout the law and the inability of the police to protect tourists."


Little option

As the mobiles chain Phones 4u goes into administration, the Daily Mail says it has become the victim of "private equity leeches".

The paper's city editor Alex Brummer says: "Consumer choice and jobs on the High Street have once again been placed in jeopardy by the rapacious behaviour of one of Britain's private equity firms - which load the companies they buy with debt, then cut costs to the bone in an attempt to make instant profits."

He says that since founder John Caudwell sold the company in 2006, Phones 4u had "been passed around among the private equity princelings like a secondhand vase at a car boot sale.

"All of these deals were financed using debt, and the priority of the owners has been to run the shops for immediate profit. The lack of investment in staff and store development has proved disastrous," he claims.

He accuses its current owners, private equity firm BC Partners, of "adding salt to the wounds" by taking on £200m of extra debt to pay a special one-off dividend to their backers.

"In effect, they milked the company for all they could while running it into the ground. In the end, even though the company was still trading profitably, it was left with little option but to close," he claims.

BC Partners say they were forced to put the firm into administration due to the decision of Vodaphone and EE to end contracts to supply their handsets through the chain's 550 stores.

The Sun says the collapse puts nearly 6,000 jobs at risk.

But it said employees facing the dole have been "thrown a lifeline" by Tesco and Dixons who say they will recruit some to work in their Phone Shop and Carphone Warehouse outlets.

The Guardian says that Mr Caudwell branded Vodaphone and EE "astonishingly ruthless" in pulling the plug on an operation which had sold "millions upon millions" of phones for them.

The paper says sources at Vodaphone and EE said the company's heavy debt meant the chain's management had been unable to offer them a "commercially viable" agreement.

The Guardian quotes administrator Rob Hunter of PwC as saying: "Our initial focus will be to quickly engage with parties who may be interested in acquiring all or part of the business, and to better understand the financial position and options for the company.

"The stores will remain closed while we have these conversations."

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