Newspaper headlines: Tory leadership race, Top Gear exit and Farage farewell

Two stories dominate the front pages - the Conservative Party leadership race and Chris Evans's Top Gear departure.

The Times reports that Boris Johnson has given his support to Andrea Leadsom to become the next leader of the Tory party.

As the paper puts it: "The former mayor of London has become the energy minister's best-known backer, four days after he crashed out of the race when he discovered that he had been betrayed by Michael Gove, his campaign manager.

"The move amounts to an act of revenge designed to hobble Mr Gove as Tory MPs hold the first round of voting today to begin whittling down five contenders to two by next week.

"Mr Johnson's endorsement will boost Mrs Leadsom's status as the candidate who has made the strongest commitment to sever ties between the EU and Britain."

The Guardian describes the backing of Mr Johnson as a coup for Mrs Leadsom.

It says: "He is a popular figure among the Conservative Party's grassroots and has earned considerable sympathy since his own campaign was thwarted before it got off the ground when Michael Gove said he could not support him and entered the race himself.

"The manner in which Gove let his friend down, at the last moment, has caused the justice secretary's campaign to have a slow start, with some MPs saying they feel that there is a question of trust.

"The decision for Johnson to back Leadsom could be hugely significant because almost 20 MPs who were planning to back him have yet to declare for another candidate.

"If they support Leadsom, the battle will become a clear two-horse race."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Boris Johnson has declared his support for Andrea Leadsom

But Home Secretary Theresa May is still the favourite, notes the Guardian.

The Telegraph says Boris Johnson's intervention will transform the Conservative leadership race and could spell the end of Mr Gove's prime ministerial ambitions.

The same paper reports that Mrs May will call for a prompt parliamentary vote in favour of renewing Britain's Trident nuclear weapons system.

"The warning from the home secretary is likely to further deepen divisions in Labour, with Jeremy Corbyn opposed to maintaining support for the Trident programme," it says.

The i says Mrs Leadsom launched her bid to become prime minister with a promise to lead the UK out of the European Union as soon as possible.

She is emerging as the main challenger to Mrs May in the battle for the party leadership, it adds.


Gear change

Hardly a day goes by, it seems, without some high-profile figure resigning - now it is the turn of Top Gear presenter Chris Evans.

The Times says the show will go on without a British household name at the helm after the BBC said it had no plans to replace him.

The paper continues: "Top Gear's ratings slipped to a 14-year low during Evans's one-series tenure, with only 1.9 million viewers tuning in for the series finale on Sunday, lower than any show during the Jeremy Clarkson era.

"The departure of Clarkson after an altercation with a producer last year led the BBC to search for a well-known British successor, but it now believes that Top Gear can survive without replacing Evans."

"Evans quits as the Top Gear wheels fall off," declares the Telegraph.

According to the Telegraph: "The presenter was bullish before the programme first aired, in May, setting a target of five million viewers as a benchmark for success.

"But the first episode received a critical mauling, and viewing figures quickly slipped away.

"After several weeks of scheduling clashes with Euro 2016 football matches - which tore into Top Gear's young, male audience base - the sixth and final episode, on Sunday night, was seen by just 1.9 million viewers, half the number who watched a repeat of Antiques Roadshow on BBC One."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Taking a back seat... Top Gear presenter Chris Evans

The Guardian says it came amid "falling ratings, unrelenting media criticism and a breakdown of his relationship with his co-host Matt LeBlanc".

Analysis by Adam Sherwin in the i says Evans told friends that whoever took over from Clarkson was on a hiding to nothing.

"But when the call came, the car obsessive couldn't resist the opportunity to relaunch the BBC's biggest brand in his own image," he continues.

Sun TV critic Ally Ross writes: "The BBC Two continuity woman sounded convinced on Sunday: 'It seems to have come round at lightning speed - the series finale of Top Gear'.

"It hadn't. It dragged like Santa Pod and was only six episodes."

The Mail believes his departure means it will be up to LeBlanc to "save the show".

The Mirror says Evans admitted he had failed to boost the show's popularity, while the Star dubs it the end of the road.


Wine bar rage

David Cameron, Roy Hodgson, Boris Johnson, much of the shadow cabinet, Chris Evans... and they are followed by UKIP leader Nigel Farage who has also stepped down.

The Times profiles Mr Farage, saying that he took UKIP from being a fringe single-issue party touting Euroscepticism to a major electoral force that helped to push for and win the EU referendum.

"The former commodities trader in the City had been interested in politics since childhood, listening to the likes of Enoch Powell and Keith Joseph when they came to speak at Dulwich College, his illustrious south London public school," it says.

"He turned to politics when Britain joined the Exchange Rate Mechanism, an experiment that would prove disastrous.

"Sitting in Coates wine bar in the City he erupted into rage after hearing that Margaret Thatcher had agreed to peg the pound to the Deutschmark, effectively yoking the two currencies."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption UKIP leader Nigel Farage is making his own exit

Mr Farage felt he had "done his bit" after the UK voted to leave the EU, says the Telegraph.

In an editorial, the paper says Mr Farage will go down in history as one of the people who helped take the UK out of the European Union.

Marina Hyde, writing in the Guardian, states that Mr Farage's resignation "is for Christmas, but not for life".

"Think of it as Glenn Close going under the bathwater in Fatal Attraction. You know she's going to rear back up soon enough," she says.

The i's political correspondent Charlie Cooper agrees.

"The biggest clue to his future direction was the following comment: 'I am very keen to help the independence movements that are springing up elsewhere in the European Union because I'm certain of one thing: you haven't seen the last country that wants to leave the EU'," he says.

"So hold onto your berets and assorted items of national dress - and prepare for Nigel Farage, the European tour."


Safe space

The UK is apparently planning what some might say is a typically British space mission.

As the Times explains: "The Chinese might be planning a crewed mission to the Moon and the Americans may be aiming to land humans on Mars but Britain, it seems, has a more prosaic calling: to clear up everyone else's mess.

"Next year a spacecraft will be launched to test three inventions designed to solve one of the more pressing problems of space exploration: the growing corona of junk orbiting our planet.

"Every day in the skies above our heads bits of defunct spacecraft from the Cold War era whizz past multi-million pound satellites vital for our telecommunications infrastructure."

In a leading article, the Times praises the University of Surrey space scientists for "rising to the task".