Newspaper headlines: Migration target row and 'fight for Labour's soul'

With the EU referendum over and the new government in place, several of Wednesday's papers focus on one of the key issues of the referendum debate: migration.

The Express says new Home Secretary Amber Rudd is under pressure to keep a 2015 Conservative election pledge to reduce net migration to "the tens of thousands".

It says Ms Rudd has "sparked anger" by refusing to commit herself to bringing the annual figure below 100,000.

The Telegraph says Ms Rudd and new Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson have "signalled" that the target has been abandoned, and have suggested the government will not commit to explicit targets.

But several papers, including the Telegraph and the Sun, quote a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Theresa May, who says the aim to reach "sustainable levels" of migration "does mean the tens of thousands".

The Mail calls it "cabinet chaos", and says government insiders "insist no decision has been taken" on whether to abolish the target.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Theresa May chaired the first meeting of her new cabinet on Tuesday

The Sun says it is "concerning" that Mr Johnson "thinks it's OK to row back on cutting immigration", and warns the government that ignoring the people's demand could have "disastrous results".

Writing in the i, former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg says Mrs May cannot promise access to Europe's single market without accepting freedom of movement in return.

"What matters more - our economy or clamping down on immigration?" he writes.

'Rank outsider'

Labour's leadership race continues to make headlines.

"The Eagle has crash landed" is how the Mirror reports Angela Eagle's withdrawal from the contest.

It says she immediately vowed to back former rival Owen Smith, and deserves "huge credit for stepping aside" to allow him a one-on-one battle with party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The Times says Mr Smith will gain the support of most Labour MPs "simply by not being Mr Corbyn" - but it says Mr Corbyn has a "huge lead" among party supporters, who will vote to choose their leader.

Writing in the i, Nigel Morris says there is "little evidence" that support for Mr Corbyn among party members is fading, so Mr Smith starts as "rank outsider".

Image caption Ms Eagle has vowed to support Mr Smith's leadership bid

The Telegraph says it is "impossible to speak of Labour under Mr Corbyn as an alternative government".

If party members re-elect Mr Corbyn it is "hard to see" how MPs who opposed him can remain in the party, it adds.

Labour MPs may be left with "no responsible option but to split from a man who is leader in name only and whose ideology is alien to the party's and the country's values", the Times argues.

But Rafael Behr, writing in the Guardian, says Mr Corbyn's opponents should be sceptical about the "fantasy" of a new centre-left party.

He argues that any new party would be "conceived in horror at the prospect of perpetual Tory rule" - but to win support Labour must "offer friendship to Conservative social reformers".

"Conservative voters will not be persuaded to change their minds by the message that they are complicit in evil. The Tories can be defeated, and will be one day - but not by a party for whom hating Tories has become the only unifying purpose," he writes.

Eye-catching headlines

  • Missed her and missus: A "hapless pensioner" flew away on holiday without his wife after losing her at the airport, the Sun reports.
  • Women laid low by high heels cost UK £260m a year: An expert has said sick leave taken by women for conditions related to high-heeled shoes is costing businesses £260m a year, the Telegraph says.
  • Man who would not marry loses profits on home: A property developer who refused to marry his partner "in case someone better came along" has been stripped of the profit from the sale of a £1m house by a judge, the i reports.
  • Lotto winners hid ticket and went on holiday: A couple who won almost £15m on the lottery hid the ticket while they went on holiday for two weeks before cashing it in, the Times reports.
Image copyright PA
Image caption Alison and John Doherty hid their winning ticket and went to Florida

Forecast 'slashed' (by 'clowns')

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said Britain's vote to leave the EU put a "spanner in the works" of the global recovery, the Guardian reports.

The IMF has "slashed its forecasts for the UK economy next year", predicting that it will grow by 1.3% instead of 2.2%, the paper adds.

In an editorial, the Financial Times says the IMF's revised prediction "assumes a swift deal that keeps the UK within the single market".

"In this benign scenario, the fallout of Brexit would be concentrated on the UK and its main EU trading partners. In a more adverse scenario, Brexit could halve output growth in advanced economies in 2017," it says.

Image copyright PA

The referendum result dealt a "severe blow to the confidence of businesses, households and investors" but the "extent of the long-term damage will depend on the form Brexit takes", the FT adds.

But under the headline "flippin' bankers", the Sun says the IMF has admitted the UK will "still outperform Germany and France".

The paper calls it "one in the eye for the Project Fear-mongers" and says the country will "keep exceeding expectations".

The Mail quotes UKIP MP Douglas Carswell, who says the IMF is run by "clowns" and has "serious credibility problems".

What the commentators say

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Media captionJournalist and broadcaster Rachel Shabi and Telegraph columnist Liam Halligan join the BBC News Channel to discuss Wednesday's front pages.

'Madcap proposal'

Millions of patients face being "dropped by their GP for being too healthy", the Daily Mail reports.

It says people will be "axed" if they have not seen a doctor for five years and fail to respond to two warning letters.

The Mirror says experts fear the cost-cutting measure will put patients at risk.

In an editorial, the paper says: "We should celebrate healthy people not troubling GPs instead of punishing them.

"This madcap proposal will have Nye Bevan's ghost shouting that the modern NHS is losing the plot."

The NHS defended the scheme, saying it needed to "ensure accurate patient lists", the Mirror adds.

Image copyright PA

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