Newspaper headlines: Nuclear plant delay, bag use cut, new Whitehall cat

The UK government's decision to delay giving the final go-ahead for a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset is given widespread coverage across Saturday's papers.

The Sun says "security concerns over China's involvement", "sky-high subsidies" and "issues with the French technology" all led to the decision to put off green-lighting the £18bn Franco-Chinese project until the autumn.

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The Financial Times reports that the move reflects a "rethink on Chinese investment in the UK" by Prime Minister Theresa May, who the paper adds, "personally made the decision to look again at the deal". It says two Chinese companies, CGN and CNNC are to finance a third of the plant, which will be built by French power utility EDF.

"Given that EDF failed to finalise the Hinkley Point deal under the leadership of David Cameron despite being urged to do so, officials believe the company should not be surprised that a new government now wants to proceed with caution," reports the Guardian.

The Daily Mirror says that Hinkey C is due to provide 7% of the UK's electricity for 60 years, "but the £92.50 per megawatt-hour deal over 35 years could leave consumers paying more than double current prices".

"Downing Street and Greg Clark, the business, energy and industrial strategy secretary, are likely to decide in September whether to go ahead with the investment, cancel it, or try to unpick the controversial deal negotiated by the coalition in 2014," reports the Times.

The Daily Telegraph, in its leader column, argues the "Mystery of Hinkley Point", while sounding "like a case for the Famous Five", is a challenge for the new government.

"Britain has serious infrastructure problems that have to be addressed," the paper says, "Mrs May must do all she can to power the country up and keep it moving while keeping her mind focused on delivering value for money to taxpayers - and to her future voters."

The Daily Mail notes that contracts for the new plant were supposed to be signed on Friday at a lunch "to celebrate the British, French and Chinese collaboration". But then came the government's move to delay making a final decision, so the dignitaries were sent back home "and the food for the 'Somerset/French/Chinese' fusion menu was binned".


Hillary makes history

Hillary Clinton's acceptance of the Democratic Party's nomination to be its candidate in November's US presidential election came too late for Friday's UK papers, so it's up to the Saturday editions to reflect on an historic first in American politics.

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The Sun says Mrs Clinton used her acceptance speech at the Democrats' convention in Philadelphia to tear into Republican opponent Donald Trump, saying "a man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons". It reports Mr Trump's response was to call the speech "very long, very boring".

"Dressed in a simple white trouser suit," says the Daily Mail, "the first female presidential contender for a major party sold herself to the sceptics as an experienced, reliable and hard-working politician". The paper adds this was an "obvious contrast to the glamour of the billionaire Mr Trump and his glitzy family".

The Times says Mrs Clinton managed to "dodge her most conspicuous weakness: that two-thirds of voters do not trust her". The paper adds that she "emphasised what may be the central piece of her battle plan: presenting Mr Trump as so ignorant, volatile and divisive, that even voters with qualms about the Clinton brand will reject him".

In an editorial, the Guardian believes such an approach may not be sufficient: "She must convince the public there are reasons to vote for her, and not simply against Mr Trump," it says. "Mrs Clinton's speech was a good start, but there is a long way to go in a few short months."


Eye-catching headlines

  • Cockroach milk could be the next trendy superfood - not a cheeky marketing ploy by Unigate, but a scientific finding reported in the Times, which states researchers believe the lactation of the un-loved insect is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. Scientists are not yet sure if it is even fit for humans, the paper notes, which may come as a relief to cockroaches.
  • Men find women even more confusing than the economy, reports the Daily Express. Twenty-nine percent of men claim that women leave them scratching their heads more than anything else, says the paper (based on a survey of 300 people). Conversely, just 5% of women think men are the most baffling things on earth.
  • Children are now getting iPads at eight - another survey, another reflection on the state of modern Britain, this time courtesy of the Daily Mail. It reports that the "average UK child owns a mobile phone by the age of seven" and an iPad by eight - despite 68% of those adults questioned believing youngsters shouldn't have a phone until they're nine (insert confused emoji here).
  • Come dry with me - the sight of British travellers washing down their airport breakfast with a few lagers may be a thing of the past, as the Daily Mirror reports the government wants to review the way alcohol is sold after passing security to crackdown on disruptive air passengers. The paper notes airport bars can be open 24 hours a day as they are not subject to licensing laws.

Poignant Pope

Several papers carry images of Pope Francis as he visited the former Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, as part of an official visit to the country.

Image copyright AP

"There are no words" is the headline in the Daily Mirror. The paper's Brian Reade reports how the Pope "was lost in contemplation at the most desolate place on earth", adding that he had "decided not to speak on this visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau where during the Second World War, 1.1 million Jews were slaughtered in industrial scale gas chambers in the name of racial superiority". "It was a wise choice," says Reade.

The Sun notes the Pope was marking 75 years since Maximillian Kolbe, who is now a saint, was killed at the Polish site.

According to the Times, "he spent five minutes in a gloomy underground cell, praying before an image of St Maximillan Kolbe, a Franciscan priest who volunteered to take the place of a condemned man".

"In the shadows of the cell, his long silence was an eloquent tribute to the suffering of so many and a profound condemnation of evil," writes Harriet Sherwood in the Guardian. "At the end of his prayers, he raised his head, crossed himself, stood and left."

The i reports that Pope Francis met 11 Auschwitz survivors, kissing each of them on both cheeks, while one man gave the pontiff "a picture of himself surrounded by other emaciated inmates, and asked him to sign it".

The Daily Express reports that before the Pope left Auschwitz, he wrote in the book of visitors' comments "Lord, have pity on your people. Lord forgive so much cruelty".


What the commentators say

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Media captionJournalist Sean Dilley and Neil Midgley of the Times review the front pages

Not my bag

The Daily Mail claims it is a victory for its readers.

With official figures showing plastic bag use is down in England by 85% since the introduction of a 5p charge, the paper says it is a "huge vindication" for its eight-year "Banish the Bags" campaign.

Image copyright Science Photo Library

The Mail says it launched its campaign in an effort to "reduce the waste, cost and environmental damage associated with the billions of plastic bags given away each year, a symbol of our throwaway society".

The i notes the introduction of the plastic bag charge "is also expected to save £60m in litter clean-up costs and generate £730m for good causes".

Plastic bags, reports the Guardian, can take hundreds of years to break down. It adds that "plastic drinks bottles and disposable coffee cups are also seen as a huge challenge to the protection of the environment".

The Sun gives an alternative metric for the success of the scheme: "the weight of the bags saved is equivalent to 300 blue whales."

The Times dedicates the final thought of its leader column to the issue. The "war on bags is being won", says the paper, with the introduction of the charge hailed as a "triumph".

It adds that "this would be a great excuse for self-congratulation, but for one thing" and then notes the countries and territories that banned, charged for, or taxed bags before England. "Still, better late than never," it concludes.


Purr-fect ending

I leave you this morning with the latest top-level appointment to the ranks of British government - Gladstone the Treasury cat.

His bright-eyed face and polka-dot bow tie peers out from many of Saturday's papers, but his arrival in Whitehall "set the fur flying", according to the Daily Express, which says he "wasted no time in joining a turf war between Larry the Downing Street cat and Palmerston of the Foreign Office".

Image copyright PA

"Whether Gladstone will act as peacemaker... remains to be seen," says the Daily Telegraph.

The Daily Mail notes the 18-month-old cat is named after William Ewart Gladstone, the 19th Century prime minister, who was also chancellor four times. The Mail reports that his food and upkeep "is being paid for by Treasury staff who all contribute to a kitty". I assume the pun was absolutely intended.

The i reveals Gladstone, who came from London's Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, was rehomed to the Treasury with an activity feeder "to encourage him to eat slowly" as he is apparently "quite greedy".

The Guardian is a little more sceptical than other papers, suggesting that while his official role is that of mouse catcher, "he arguably plays just as important a role as a cuddly PR emblem for an otherwise austere government department".


Making us click

The Guardian - Actor Honeysuckle Weeks found 'safe and sound'

i - Belgravia home owned by Wolf of Wall Street Hollywood mogul sought in anti-corruption probe

Daily Express - Sturgeon left humiliated as poll finds Scots want to remain part of Britain despite Brexit

Daily Mail - Islamic street preacher, 31, is charged after screaming abuse at a woman for wearing 'tight jeans' and shouting 'Allahu Akbar' in a policeman's face

Daily Telegraph - Sunbathing Swedish police officer stuns pickpocket in the park

Daily Mirror - Turkey cancels 50,000 passports as President Erdogan tightens noose around suspected dissidents after failed coup

FT - Venezuela's armed forces tighten grip as food crisis grows