Newspaper headlines: Osborne's 'colossal' cuts, Tory-BBC 'war' and Spectre cast

After winning positive reviews for shaking up stamp duty, George Osborne might not find Friday's headlines so easy to digest.

The Guardian suggests the chancellor was "rattled" by public spending analysts' suggestions that he had a duty to spell out his deficit reduction plans, given they would involve cuts on a "colossal" scale. "Grotesque" is the word picked out by the Daily Telegraph, while former Labour speechwriter Philip Collins complains in the Times of the "catalogue of unacknowledged failure" - in terms of missed targets on borrowing and the deficit - in Mr Osborne's Autumn Statement.

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The Independent says plans to achieve a budget surplus by 2020 depend on household debt - in the form of credit card and overdraft borrowing - rising to £360bn over the next five years. If they do not, writes economics editor Ben Chu, "growth would collapse and the government's deficit would, most likely, start increasing again". Yet Fraser Nelson, in the Daily Telegraph, says households "are not binging on debt" and that it's Mr Osborne who's a "debt addict". He writes: "He aims to increase [government] debt by another £200bn but thinks he'll get away with it".

However, there are some positive stories for the chancellor, with the Daily Mail and Telegraph offering case studies of homebuyers who are saving on stamp duty and vendors who expect to get more for their properties. And Mail City editor Alex Brummer argues there's "still plenty of scope for savage cuts" to welfare, health spending and the size of the Department for International Development. The writer suggests entire departments - such as Culture, Media and Sport, and Business, Innovation and Skills - could be axed.

One thing that's clear after the Autumn Statement, argues the Financial Times, is a £27bn-a-year divide between the main parties' spending plans, with Labour aiming to balance the books over a much longer period, and the Lib Dems positioning themselves in the middle.


War of words

Mr Osborne had come out fighting on Thursday, with his attack on the BBC's "totally hyperbolic coverage" of spending cuts leading to declarations on the Mail and Telegraph front pages that the Conservatives are "at war" with the corporation.

For the Telegraph, BBC correspondent Norman Smith's likening of the spending cuts required to meet Mr Osborne's aims to George Orwell's depression-era book The Road to Wigan Pier "smacks of partisanship" and is "preposterous". The chancellor has pledged £2bn investment in the NHS whereas in the 30s there was "next to no welfare state", it says. "The corporation habitually talks about brutal cuts to spending rather than saving for the taxpayer," it adds, complaining the BBC was showing its "true colours".

The Mail says the chancellor was "justifiably enraged", adding: "There is no question of a return to the penury of the 1930s, however much the BBC disgracefully pretends otherwise." Times sketchwriter Ann Treneman describes the effect of Mr Osborne's anger during an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "[Presenter] John Humphrys was so taken aback, and it doesn't happen often, that he was silent."

The Guardian's John Crace suggests the chancellor's tetchiness was down to a "no-food day" of his 5-2 diet, saying: "Humphrys can be sharp, but he's no Trot and he'd only been asking the question everyone else had been thinking." Michael Deacon, for the Telegraph, jokes: "It was appalling, the way the BBC thought it could invite a Chancellor of the Exchequer onto the air, then ambush him with questions about the economy."

For the Daily Mirror, Mr Osborne's "outbreak of bad temper" showed him "losing control of his distasteful sense of entitlement" and displaying a dislike for accountability.

Meanwhile, the Guardian argues that even if the Wigan Pier comment crossed over into exaggeration: "It is absurd that a two-way by one correspondent at 6am should be greeted by apocalyptic statements from Downing Street about the stance of the BBC as a whole."


'Double-oh heaven'

The Mail's front page hails the first "middle-aged Bond girl", in a reference to Monica Bellucci who, at 50, will become 007's "oldest squeeze ever" in the next James Bond film, Spectre. "The Italian is rumoured to play a 'cougar' planning to trap the Brit," reports the Daily Star, which reckons the spy - played by Daniel Craig - will be in "double-oh heaven" opposite Bellucci and French actress Lea Seydoux.

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"The name's Bonk... James Bonk," reads the Sun's headline, as it notes that Seydoux "starred in a seven-minute lesbian scene in last year's Blue is the Warmest Colour".

Others pay more attention to Craig's sartorial choices at the unveiling of the cast. "Bond is still licensed to thrill... even dressed in a woolly jumper," reckons the Daily Express, while the Mirror's headline suggests: "The world is knit enough."

The Guardian points out that the film gets its name from the global terrorist organisation first introduced in the 1965 film Thunderball and says it "marks a definitive return to traditional 007 territory" on behalf of the production company. This leads Kaya Burgess to speculate in the Times as to whether the movie will also see the return of the supervillain, Blofeld. However, the paper's editorial imagines a phone call from the production company to the character, who complains: "I'm 106-years-old. And I died in For Your Eyes Only."


How much?

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Sports writers are salivating over the prospect of a Manchester United spending spree, with Louis Van Gaal handed £100m to spend on players, according to the Telegraph. According to the Mail and Mirror, that sum is closer to £150m, while the Daily Star describes a "£200m war chest".

Whichever is the true figure, the Times says the club's spending could soar to up to £350m over two years as it embarks on a galactico-style policy - copying the Real Madrid format of spending huge sums on world-famous names. According to the Express, players on Van Gaal's shopping list include Roma midfielder Kevin Strootman, Borussia Dortmund pair Mats Hummels and Marco Reus, Atletico Madrid's Diego Godin, Barcelona's Dani Alves and Southampton's Nathaniel Clyne.


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