The papers: Brown's battle, and the royal baby

Events in Scotland seem to be moving at a frenetic pace - Sunday's publishing of the first opinion poll putting the yes to independence camp ahead; George Osborne's offer to set out a timetable for when new powers would be given to the Scottish Parliament, and now Gordon Brown appearing to take the helm of the campaign to save the 307-year-old union.

Tuesday's national papers examine all this, and offer plenty of opinions.

Image copyright EPA

The Daily Mail, not a paper to cut Mr Brown much slack when he was prime minister, now says the ex-premier is leading the "fightback" with a "battle cry to save Britain".

The Mail's parliamentary sketch writer Quentin Letts witnessed Mr Brown in action at a no to independence rally in Loanhead, Midlothian.

He said the former Labour leader was "growly", but "actually rather good" as he set out his "positive patriotic vision".

"I yield to no one in my pride of being Scottish," Mr Brown had told the audience at a miners' welfare hall.

The Sun says Mr Brown has promised that work framing the new devolved powers Scotland will receive if it stays in the union will begin "within 24 hours of the referendum next Thursday".

Writing in the Independent, the former Scottish chief minister Lord McConnell says: "The new powers and timetable offered by Mr Brown may not be enough to prevent a Yes vote."

Lord McConnell adds: "We also need a promise of change in the way the UK is governed, not just a timetable for more powers at Holyrood.

"We need a firm commitment by all three UK party leaders to a constitutional convention to clean up and reinvigorate our democracy and genuinely decentralise power and energy from London and the south-east."

The Daily Telegraph says David Cameron is under pressure to ask the Queen to intervene in the referendum debate.

Sources say the monarch is a keen supporter of the continuing union, despite having to remain silent on the matter in public.

"Senior MPs have suggested an intervention from the Queen could 'make all the difference," the paper adds.

Much of Tuesday's coverage focuses on the effect the uncertain future of the UK is having on financial markets.

The Daily Express notes: "Scottish banks and other firms with links north of the border saw billions of pounds wiped off shares in a wave of selling by worried investors."

The paper quotes a financial analyst who says "If we get this sort of volatility on the prospect of a Yes vote, can you imagine the reaction if we do get a Yes vote? It's not likely to be pretty."

Also unlikely to be pretty is the political future of the prime minister if Yes wins, according to many of the papers.

The Sun publishes a poll which suggests 50% of English and Welsh voters think Mr Cameron should resign if Scotland secedes from the United Kingdom.

It also publishes a "Dear Deidre" style mocked-up photo montage of Mr Cameron with SNP leader Alex Salmond which is best seen rather than described.

The agony aunt "tells" Mr Cameron: "I'm not suggesting it's going to be easy for you and Alex to kiss and make up, but start negotiating specific changes for the good, rather than swapping hot air."

11th century

When it comes to the newspapers' opinion formers, the London-based dailies are still sticking to their Better Together guns.

In the Guardian, author Tom Holland says "that the Scots could even contemplate leaving a country which they have done so much to forge demonstrates with urgent clarity that the status quo is no longer sustainable."

Image copyright British Library
Image caption King Canute (or Cnut) set out the border between what is now England and Scotland

But he adds, "One can recognise this and still feel that the re-imposition of a border across Great Britain that ultimately goes back to the 11th century and the reign of Cnut is not necessarily the most progressive of policies.

"Scotland's problems, after all, are Britain's problems too; and any vote to sever the bonds that currently link the Scots to their fellow citizens in the UK will serve, in effect, as an abandonment of shared responsibilities that previous generations were proud to shoulder."

Academic Vernon Bogdanor writes in the Daily Telegraph that English nationalists may be the beneficiaries of any separation.

"A Scottish exit might well unleash the hitherto slumbering force of English nationalism.

"That could make life difficult for an independent Scotland. Much of what Mr Salmond hopes for in the proposed post-independence negotiations, such as currency union and his ill-defined 'social union', depend crucially on English goodwill.

"Such goodwill might be a commodity in distinctly short supply if Scotland votes Yes on September 18."

In the Independent, Steve Richards says that "each time the No campaign raises its game, Salmond will pop up to declare the other side is panicking".

Richards argues that the Scottish nationalists' appeal was helped by the fact that the referendum was called "at the end of more than four years of a right-wing, Conservative-dominated government at Westminster, with a general election looming in which a part of England might possibly elect a wholly unconstrained Conservative administration.

"There is no point... when the temptation in Scotland to break away would have been stronger than next Thursday," he adds.

Scottish Daily Mail columnist Chris Deerin bemoans the "bullying and patronising" nature of much of the No campaign.

"It causes no small amusement up here," he says, " that the rest of the UK has suddenly woken up to the prospect of a Yes vote.

"'There's no point pretending you care now. Where have you been?' is the general response."


Several of Tuesday's papers suggest that the news that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are having a second child will swing the Scottish referendum around to reject separation.

While it is not clear how that may happen, it's true to say that the wave of Fleet Street enthusiasm for the happy news provides a welcome respite from the grim news stories of the last few months .

The Daily Express simply headlines "Wills: Our joy over baby no 2".

Like much of the press, the paper discusses the acute morning sickness that the duchess is currently suffering, and which necessitated the announcement of her pregnancy earlier than had been planned.

An Express "royal source" tells it "Kate had the same degree of severe morning sickness as two years ago when she spent three nights in hospital with it.

"Her condition, hyperemesis gravidarum, led the couple to reveal early that she was pregnant with their first child, Prince George," the paper adds.

In the Daily Mirror, Dr Miriam Stoppard describes the medical background to the condition, which should disappear around the eighth week of pregnancy.

"The cause of morning sickness - severe or mild - remains mysterious but the production of sudden high levels of hormones, particularly human chorionic gonadotropin, closely parallels the time of nausea.

"HCG could be described as a sign of a healthy placenta but it's not clear why it affects some women and not others."

Dr Stoppard adds: "Kate should eat little and often. Sucking peppermints or nibbling dried fruits or biscuits as well as keeping up her fluid intake will help."

The Sun is one of many papers that devotes space to speculation as to the name of the future fourth in line to the throne.

Alexandra for a girl and James for a boy are the top punters' choice, coming in at 10 to 1 apiece.

Eleanor, Florence, David and Andrew (the latter being this writer's recommendation to the royal couple), fare less well in the bookies, attracting odds of 50 to 1 in each case.

A spokesman for one of the big betting firms tells the Times: "If there's one thing that baby George taught us, it's that the British public love a punt on a royal offspring and we're bracing ourselves for another baby betting bonanza.

"Money is already pouring in by the pram load and we expect this to be the biggest novelty betting market of the year."


Another child who has been gathering lots of headlines is Ashya King, the five-year-old cancer patient, who is in the Czech hospital where he is to receive the proton beam therapy his parents sought for him.

The Daily Mail reports Ashya will undergo an assessment on Tuesday with the view to starting the course of treatment - which can take up to 30 visits - early next week.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Ashya arrived at the Motol Hospital near Prague on Monday

Ashya's father Brett - who was held in a Spanish jail for three days after British police issued a warrant for his arrest because he took the boy away from a Southampton hospital - tells the paper , "It's amazing, I'm excited. Power to the people.

"When you see my son you see why the whole thing we've been through has been worthwhile to get him better. He will get better."

The paper explains that while NHS England has provided funds for 99 sick children to have the proton beam treatment abroad, it does not offer it for children with the type of brain tumour that Ashya has "because of concern that patients not fit enough to travel would be delayed from receiving radiotherapy and subsequently have a reduced chance of a cure."

The Daily Telegraph says Mr King said he was "waiting to hear if the NHS will pay the £70,000 for the five-year-old's care; however, money has been donated by the public since their ordeal began."

The paper notes Ashya is no longer a ward of court, a judge ruling that "leaving Ashya without his parents was not in his best interests."

Writing in the Independent, Steve Connor says the case highlights "the increasingly fraught relationship that often develops between doctors and patients in the age of the age of the internet.

"Many patients, and especially the parents of very ill children, are questioning everything that the medical profession had once believed was solely their domain."

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