A number of Friday's papers lead with the announcement that the HS2
high-speed rail project will be delayed by two years to cut costs. The i
says inflation has added billions to the cost of the scheme and that
the hold-ups will hit the sections of the line between Birmingham,
Crewe, and Manchester. The paper calls it a "significant blow the
government's levelling up commitments".
"Huge shambles 2", reads the headline in the Daily Mirror. The paper calls the delay a "betrayal of the north" and quotes a Labour spokesperson saying northern England is "yet again being asked to pay the price for staggering Conservative failure."
The Times says the full line may not be ready until 2041 or even later and that the announcement has called into question whether Euston will be the London terminus of the line. The paper also quotes John Foster of industry group the CBI questioning the rationale for the decision. "Delays to the project may create short-term savings, but they can ultimately lead to higher overall costs," he says.
At least 511 seriously ill patients died last year after ambulances took up to 15 hours to reach them, according to the Guardian. The paper says the figure is more than double the comparable number in 2021 and that NHS leaders and health experts have blamed years of underfunding as well as a lack of staff for the problem.
The Daily Telegraph reports that the chief inspector of Ofsted has warned the government there are currently "no limits" on what schoolchildren can be taught in sex and relationship classes. Speaking to the paper, Amanda Spielman said pupils are being told things that have "no basis in any reputable scientific biological explanation". It comes after the paper earlier reported claims that pupils in some secondary schools are being told there are 100 genders.
The Daily Express reports that the BBC is under pressure to make Gary Lineker apologise after he said the language in which the government announced a new asylum law was reminiscent of 1930s Germany. The paper quotes Home Secretary Suella Braverman accusing the Match of the Day host of "diminishing" the Holocaust and says BBC bosses are "struggling to work out" how to handle the controversy.
Lineker is playing the BBC for fools, according to the Daily Mail. The paper quotes Lineker saying on Thursday that the row was "ridiculously out of proportion" while a Tory MP called the situation a "farce".
The Metro quotes Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, saying that only luck has so far avoided disaster at Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station. It comes after backup systems at the plant, the largest in Europe, were forced to kick in to avoid a meltdown after a Russian missile knocked out its power supply for a sixth time. Addressing the agency's board of governors on Thursday, Grossi said: "This cannot go on."
Russian oligarchs Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven are planning to offload their stakes in Alfa-Bank, Russia's largest private lender, in a sale worth $2.3bn, the Financial Times reports. The paper says the move is part of an attempt to shake off Western sanctions, but adds there is no guarantee it will succeed.
And Prince Harry is branded "Prince Charmless" on the front page of the Daily Star. The paper criticises the prince's decision to have his daughter Lilibet christened as a princess, saying it comes after he spent "three years moaning about life as a royal".
A number of Friday's papers lead with the announcement that the HS2 high-speed rail project will be delayed by two years to cut costs.
"Huge Shambles 2", says the Daily Mirror. It believes the announcement represents a "betrayal of the North". The i warns that the hold up could put the government's levelling up plans at risk, while the Daily Express greets the news with a question: "Who'd have thought it?" In its editorial, the Times describes the project as a "national embarrassment".
It's "your problem, not ours", is what the Independent says French President Macron has told Prime Minister Rishi Sunak about stopping small boats crossing the Channel. The Times has details of plans to give France £200m to invest in police, security, and intelligence.
According to the Daily Telegraph, the Home Office has had to find an extra £2bn to fund hotel rooms for asylum-seekers. The paper says there are "asylum hotels" in 90% of England's 48 counties.
The Daily Mail accuses Gary Lineker of "playing the BBC for fools" over his social media posts about the government's asylum policy. The Sun says the Match of the Day host will escape a red card, while the Times suggests Lineker is "confident" he will present the show this weekend.
An investigation by the Guardian reports that more than 500 seriously ill patients died last year after ambulances took up to 15 hours to reach them. The data includes people who had a stroke or a heart attack. The paper says this shows the growing risks to people from what it calls the "implosion" of NHS emergency care.
The Daily Telegraph carries a warning from the head of the schools watchdog Ofsted, who says that some children's sex education lessons have "no basis" in "reputable" science.
Amanda Spielman tells the paper that there are currently "no limits" on what can be taught. But the i's Paul Waugh writes that the government is buying into "myths" about sex education in schools. The prime minister has announced a review of what is on the curriculum.
Sources tell the Guardian that former Prime Minister Boris Johnson has created a "headache" for Mr Sunak by nominating Paul Dacre, the Daily Mail chief, for a peerage in his resignation honours list. It reports that previous attempts to honour Mr Dacre were blocked by the House of Lords appointments commission.
Cabinet secretary Simon Case is in the "endgame" of his civil service career, says the Telegraph. Senior officials who have spoken to the paper have criticised what they call his "weak leadership".
The i also says Mr Case's government career is in danger because he is perceived as being "too close" to ministers. Downing Street has previously said Mr Case would remain in position "for a very long time to come".
British ambassadors have been told to stop SNP ministers talking about independence while on overseas trips, according to the Scottish Daily Mail. It says Foreign Secretary James Cleverly will set out his "fears" in letters to officials around the globe.