Newspaper headlines: Fears for MPs as UK nears 'point of no return'

By BBC News

  • Published
Travellers on the London Underground, one wearing a face maskImage source, Getty Images

Many of today's papers respond to the accelerating spread of coronavirus in the UK with ominous headlines.

The Daily Mail's is "the point of no return", and for the Daily Mirror it's "the wave is coming".

The Daily Express goes with "'nothing can stop' virus sweeping Britain". The paper has images of what it calls the "rudimentary protection" adopted by commuters. One woman is pictured wearing a plastic box on her head, another a shopping bag.

In its editorial, the Sun predicts things will soon get more serious. "We may need more draconian steps sooner rather than later", it says.

The Daily Telegraph details what one of those steps might be, reporting that funerals of coronavirus victims could be "transmitted to mourners over the internet to prevent the spread of the disease if it becomes a pandemic". The paper says government documents also suggest crematoria might have to stay open 24 hours a day, with shorter funeral services, to cope with up to 50,000 extra deaths a week.

The Times, meanwhile, reports that Parliament could be suspended for five months from the end of March to prevent MPs from spreading coronavirus.

The plans amount to "the longest summer recess we have known", a senior parliamentary source tells the paper. Explaining the rationale behind the proposal, the source says: "We've got 650 people who spend half the week across the's 650 superspreaders."

The Independent focuses on how prepared the NHS is for that eventuality. Its conclusion: not very. It says it's been told by senior doctors and nurses that the health service "lacks the beds, staffing and resources" to cope with a serious outbreak.

"On Monday the hospital was full, and patients were waiting over 12 hours in A&E for admission," one doctor tells the website, anonymously. "And this is before we've even contemplated dealing with a single coronavirus case."

Chairwoman of Association of Critical Care Nurses, Nicki Credland says: "There simply aren't enough beds. We will need to make difficult decisions about which patients are admitted. The general public have a right to the truth."

The Guardian, meanwhile, says there's a "backlash" against the government deciding to issue weekly rather than daily information about the locations of new cases. Prof Paul Ashford, a former director at Public Health England, criticises the move, telling the paper: "They should be sharing the data as much as possible, to make the public equal partners."

Image source, Getty Images

Meanwhile, there appears to be trouble ahead for Rishi Sunak. "Give us £5bn a year more, schools warn chancellor" is the headline in the Guardian. It reports that what it calls an "unprecedented alliance of headteachers, school governors, councils and unions" are to lobby Mr Sunak ahead of next week's budget, saying the extra cash is needed in order to avoid further cuts.

The Sun, on the other hand, warns the chancellor against trying to raise extra money from trying to increase fuel duty - saying the government would face a revolt if it did. It says 53 Tory MPs have signed a letter urging Mr Sunak to ditch plans.

The Daily Telegraph previews a speech the new Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, is to give today about the BBC, in which he's to accuse the corporation of a "narrow urban outlook". The paper says his remarks will be seen as an attack on the BBC over its perceived left-wing bias.

The Guardian, meanwhile, highlights that Mr Dowden is to also call the BBC an "institution to be cherished" and that the UK would be "crazy to throw it away". The Guardian's assessment is that this represents a "partial climbdown from government briefings against the broadcaster in recent weeks."

And in light of the recent Taliban-US peace deal, how will the government "honour the dedication" of the nearly 500 British soldiers killed and the 4,500 wounded in Afghanistan? That is the question posed by a number of former military chiefs in a letter to the Times, who write that "their sacrifice must not be in vain".

In its editorial, the paper agrees. The "top brass rightly fear the terms" of the agreement, it says. Prime Minister Boris Johnson should say whether he thinks it respects the Afghanistan veterans' "hard-earned achievements".

And finally, what are "Dollface", "Sweet Angel", "Girly Girl" and "Ladylike"? Somewhat improbably, the answer is the names of various shades of pink paint currently sold by the Valspar brand. But - the Daily Mail informs its readers - they are soon to be painted out of decorating history. The company has admitted the names are "old fashioned" and "gender stereotyping."

They are to be replaced, the Mail says, with more "empowering" names. Meaning, from next month, customers will instead be able to paint rooms a fetching shade of "Woke Up Like This", "Fearless" or "Like a Boss".