Newspaper headlines: Reshuffle sparks 'licence fee battle'

David Cameron's cabinet reshuffle attracts widespread coverage - and there is much focus on new Culture Secretary John Whittingdale and claims his appointment is a warning shot at the BBC.

According to the Daily Telegraph, the choice will be viewed as an "effective declaration of war" on the corporation, and it says the future of the £145.50-a-year licence fee is now in doubt.

Mr Whittingdale has previously indicated he feels the licence is "unsustainable" in the long-term, and the Telegraph suggests he is at the very least likely to freeze its cost.

Image copyright EPA

The BBC's royal charter comes up for renewal next year, and the Times says the prime minister has chosen a fierce critic to take charge of deciding the corporation's future, amid Tory anger over the way it covered the election.

The appointment of Mr Whittingdale, a stalwart of the Tory right, was the "stand-out surprise" in Mr Cameron's first Conservative-only government, adds the Times.

The Daily Mail welcomes Mr Whittingdale's appointment in an editorial entitled "Watch out, Auntie", while the Sun sees it as "payback time" for "decades of BBC bias".

But the Guardian says the "dismemberment or the starvation of the BBC would be one of the great acts of vandalism against this country's institutions and shared culture".

The Daily Mirror chooses to highlight comments made before the reshuffle by outgoing BBC commissioning executive Ben Stephenson that the licence fee needs to be increased if the current level of drama production is to be maintained.


'Blue collar cabinet'

Other new ministers are creating headlines of their own.

The Guardian is among the papers to note the inclusion of MPs from modest backgrounds in what was "quickly called the Tories' first blue collar cabinet".

Image copyright PA

The Times says Mr Cameron's choices were an attempt to challenge the "Tories elitist image".

It highlights the selection of Robert Halfon as deputy chairman, an MP who has championed efforts to rekindle Tory support among the working-class, as being "among the most significant".

The Sun portrays the "reshuffle as downstairs upstairs", saying it put right two major flaws in the last cabinet - the absence of women and state-educated ministers. It picks out Employment Minister Priti Patel and Small Business Minister Anna Soubry as examples of "ordinary people".

Sajid Javid's appointment as business secretary leads the Financial Times. The paper sees the choice of the former banker - and son of a bus driver - as "emblematic of Mr Cameron's plan to lead a government with free market instincts allied to measures to show the Tories are on the side of aspiring working families".

The Daily Express notes that securing a majority at the general election gave Mr Cameron the ability to make a "decisive break with the coalition era" by promoting "stars" from the right of the Conservative Party.


Eye-catching headlines

"I'd love to have a wife to share royal pressures" - The Daily Mirror is among several papers to carry remarks made by Prince Harry during his visit to New Zealand about a wish to settle down and have children

"Stone circle discovered on Dartmoor may be older than Stonehenge" - The Times says archaeologists have uncovered the first unrecorded site on the moor in over a century

"Britons spend a whole day of the week online" - The Daily Telegraph highlights Ofcom report suggesting internet usage has doubled in 10 years


Legacy at stake

Proposals by Brussels for a mandatory migrant quota system for refugees rescued in the Mediterranean prompts further debate about the government's promise to renegotiate the terms of the UK's membership of the EU.

The Daily Express says the home secretary is right to refuse to partake in the scheme. It adds the development would only encourage more migrants to attempt the perilous journey.

The plan, says the Daily Mail, underlines "how vitally important" it is for the prime minister to secure a new deal putting the UK back in charge of its own affairs, ahead of his promised in-out referendum on EU membership.

The Guardian says existing opt-out provisions may actually allow the UK to avoid being part of any arrangement. But it says the existing legal framework for refugees in Europe is "close to useless" and "at the very least we need to be part of the discussions over what should take its place".

In its front page story, the Guardian reports that the prime minister is planning to bring the referendum forward by a year to 2016 in order to avoid a politically dangerous clash with the French and German elections.

A leader in the Times says the UK's negotiations with the EU should aim to show how all member states will benefit from more flexibility in decision making. It says EU leaders would be wise to accommodate Britain's requests as "Europe needs Britain as much as Britain needs Europe".

The Financial Times believes Mr Cameron needs to start championing the case for continued EU membership to his own party and the British people. It says until then Europe's leaders may remain unconvinced of his view that he wants to keep Britain in a reformed EU.

In the Independent, Whitehall editor Oliver Wright examines the background to the negotiations, suggesting they will define Mr Cameron's legacy as prime minister.


'Curious comeback'

Nigel Farage's decision to stay on as leader of UKIP after the party's board rejected his resignation appears to be greeted with some puzzlement.

Image copyright Getty Images

Three days after quitting when he failed to be elected the MP for Thanet South, he "executed one of the more curious political comebacks of modern British political history", says the Financial Times.

The Daily Mail's headline describes the events as a farce, while the Daily Mirror says in an editorial that it shows "UKIP is not a movement but a man".

The Daily Telegraph suggests Mr Farage's actions risk damaging the party's image as he had promised to stand down if he did not win the seat. In an article for the paper, Mr Farage says he was reluctant to take on the role again but the unexpected call from UKIP members persuaded him to change his mind.

His return is welcomed by the Daily Express in a leading article. It says UKIP supporters will have despaired at the resignation and British politics "is all the better for having Mr Farage involved".


Making people click:

Times: Nepal blocks British Chinooks from earthquake relief mission

Daily Mail: 'Country bumpkin' farmer who turned down £275m from developers for his land

Financial Times: Bottled water flies off shelves as fizzy drinks go flat

Guardian: Boris Johnson: cabinet post is a zero-hours contract, not a job