image caption“Kindness of strangers” is the headline on the front of the i weekend, with the paper one of several to lead on the country’s response in offering free meals to disadvantaged children. It comes after MPs voted against extending free school meals over half term in England. Businesses including pubs, cafes and restaurants responded overwhelmingly after footballer Marcus Rashford’s call to action.
image captionThe Daily Mirror says the nation’s reaction “shames Tory MPs”. The paper quotes Labour MP Lucy Powell who said the government “should be ashamed” for failing to help families over the school holidays.
image caption“Britain… 1, Bozo and co… 0” is how the Daily Star puts it. “United! United!” is emblazoned on the front page, with a photo of Rashford taking centre stage, surrounded by screenshots of businesses offering food via social media.
image captionAnd councils are also stepping up, the Guardian reports, with scores pledging to feed disadvantaged children. Following the angry response from many across the country, the government is understood to be preparing for a partial climbdown, the paper adds, by expanding access to holiday activity clubs where meals are served. However, there are delays from the Treasury, the paper says, citing local government sources.
image captionThe Daily Mail leads with the “bizarre” lockdown measures gripping Britain. As Wales’ firebreak lockdown begins, shoppers have been banned from buying “non-essential” items such as socks, toasters, bedding, towels and cards, the paper reports. “It’s Covid hysteria,” the paper says. Police on the border with England have prepared extra patrols to catch half-term holidaymakers. The Mail adds that millions of Britons are being “secretly watched” under a scheme to monitor social distancing.
image captionElsewhere, the National Trust could face an investigation by the Charity Commission for straying from its “clear, simple purpose” to oversee historic buildings and treasures, the Daily Telegraph reports. The paper quotes Baroness Stowell of Beeston, chairman of the charity regulator, who said the trust should not “lose sight” of what its members expect. The paper adds that the commission approached the trust earlier this month following complains over the latter’s review of links between its properties and the British Empire.
image caption“UK targets Putin allies” is the headline on the front page of the Times, with the paper citing comments made by former cabinet secretary Lord Mark Sedwill. He told Times Radio that a “series of discreet measures” were being used against Russia, including targeting oligarchs’ illicit money trails.
image captionMeanwhile, a buoyant post-lockdown housing market has caused banks to raise their mortgage interest rates in a bid to stem runaway demand for home loans, the FT Weekend reports. The paper says that the temporary hiatus on stamp duty has fuelled a V-shaped recovery in the market, with buyers rushing to take advantage of the deal before the grace period ends on 31 March. Separately, the paper says the UK is poised to get a worse deal for financial services with the European Union than the bloc agreed with Japan.
image captionAnd the Daily Express cites a health expert who says coronavirus can be beaten with a combination of vaccines, improved testing and contact tracing. Professor High Pennington described it as an “admission of failure” to say the virus was here to stay.