Newspaper headlines: Rory Stewart's PM bid on front pages

Rory Stewart speaking at a vote rally at the Underbelly Festival Garden on London's Southbank Image copyright PA

As Conservative MPs prepare to vote in the second round of their party's leadership contest, many papers focus on the prospects of one of the six contenders.

Rory Stewart could knock out Sajid Javid or Dominic Raab, the Sun suggests.

According to the i, he's emerging as a "serious threat" in the race. The paper says Mr Stewart has warned that he has 100 Tory MPs ready to block Boris Johnson's no-deal Brexit stance.

The Daily Telegraph raises the question of whether the international development secretary was once a spy for MI6. Meanwhile, the Times suggests rival Michael Gove is trying to put off potential Stewart supporters by urging MPs to pick two Brexiteers for the final round, so as not to "polarise" the Conservative Party.

After several Tory leadership hopefuls admitted having once taken drugs, the Financial Times says business travellers to the US are being "haunted" by decades-old drug and alcohol offences.

Immigration lawyers are warning that the US has toughened its approach to approving visas, the FT says, with a 108% increase in the number of travellers being refused entry to America last year.

Meanwhile, as the US sends more than 1,000 troops to the Middle East amid growing tensions with Iran, Washington Post columnist Max Boot says the crisis is "largely of (President) Trump's own making", and that he's "diminishing America's safety and standing".

The Politico website says the European Union has sought to play down Iran's warning that it will soon breach its uranium stockpile limits.

But the Times cautions against "tutting about American belligerence", and suggests the Europeans should get tougher with the implementation of its existing nuclear deal with Iran

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'Absolutely ruthless'

The Daily Mirror devotes five pages to an interview with the Islamic State group fighter, Alexander Kotey, who was stripped of his British citizenship. Kotey, who was nicknamed a "Beatle", tells the paper from his cell in Syria that he saved the life of fellow IS fighter, Mohammed Emwazi, known as Jihadi John, and wept when he finally died.

Kotey reveals he would like to live in the UK, with his Syrian wife and three children.

Image copyright EPA

Writing in the Daily Mail, Theresa May sets out her plans to be "absolutely ruthless" with any companies that exploit loyal customers. The prime minister is giving regulators powers to impose fines on companies that overcharge or mislead consumers, stopping firms charging unfair cancellation charges.

Citizens Advice, which raised the issue, has welcomed the news, according to the FT. However, the organisation has questioned whether the new powers go far enough, while consumer watchdog Fairer Finance tells the Times it "sounds like it could be more spin than substance".

Slow news

The slime that allows snails to creep up walls is the inspiration behind a new reversible superglue, according to the Guardian.

So strong is the new product that scientists used two postage stamp-sized squares of it to hold the weight of a 13-stone student.

The Times explains that when a snail stops, its sticky mucus hardens to hold the creature in place. When it moves again, it releases more moist mucus.

In the same way, when the liquid glue dries it shrinks and hardens; but add water and it softens and can be re-used.

A masterpiece to yourself?

The Telegraph invites readers to imagine "the Mona Lisa all to yourself in (a) virtually empty Louvre".

The rare prospect is be realised when the Paris gallery offers visitors virtual reality headsets in an exhibition to mark the 500th anniversary of the death of the masterpiece's creator, Leonardo Da Vinci.

Image copyright Reuters

The Times welcomes the move, pointing out the futility of trying to see the painting through the barrage of arms and smartphones.

Leonardo himself would have relished the novelty, it suggests.