image captionThe Guardian says Chancellor Rishi Sunak is under increasing pressure to provide more money for the health service after it emerged the government is only planning to give NHS workers a 1% pay rise next year. The proposal has brought condemnation, the paper says, with the Royal College of Nursing saying that nursing staff would feel they are being “punished and made to pay for the cost of the pandemic”.
image caption“Insult to NHS heroes” is the Daily Mirror’s take on the pay proposal. The paper says the rise could amount to just £3.50 extra per week in take-home pay for experienced nurses.
image captionThe i says medics have accused ministers of failing medics, quoting one as saying “let them eat claps” – a reference to the weekly clap for NHS workers earlier in the pandemic. The paper says Whitehall officials have insisted health service workers have generous pensions and sick leave.
image captionIt comes as the Times leads on a new poll that shows the Conservatives enjoying a significant bounce in the polls, despite announcing the biggest tax rises in 30 years in Wednesday’s Budget. A survey by YouGov has the party 13 points ahead of Labour. The paper says the news will raise pressure on Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, with one senior party member describing the outlook as “grim”.
image captionThe Daily Telegraph leads on news that the EU has begun blocking exports of the AstraZeneca vaccine, as Europe’s leaders admitted they were wrong about the Oxford jab. The Italian government has blocked the export of a shipment to Australia. It means it is the first country to use the bloc’s new regulations allowing exports to be stopped if the company providing vaccines fails to meets its obligations to the EU.
image captionThe prime minister has been dragged into the ongoing row over claims the Duchess of Sussex bullied royal staff, according to the Metro. Boris Johnson’s cabinet secretary, Simon Case, worked for the Royal Family in 2018, when staff are reported to have complained about the behaviour of Meghan. No 10 said reports Mr Case covered up the bullying claims were “a matter for the palace”.
image captionThe Daily Star has a tongue-in-cheek take on the controversy, saying “publicity-averse” Meghan has “accidentally set off a royal nuclear bomb”. It comes after she accused Buckingham Palace of “perpetuating falsehoods” about her and her husband, Prince Harry.
image captionElsewhere, the Daily Mail says the prime minister fears the final bill for his fiancee’s “lavish” makeover of their Downing Street flat could be as high as £200,000. The paper says Mr Johnson told aides of his worries in “crisis meetings” on how to pay for Carrie Symonds’ refurbishment.
image captionHopes of holidays across the UK were boosted on Thursday, reports the Daily Express – but the costs have soared for millions of families. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he is confident restrictions will be lifted thanks to the vaccine rollout.
image captionAnd finally, Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance has stopped making payments to Greensill Capital, the ailing finance group that helped transform the former commodities trader into a leading player in the global steel industry, reports the Financial Times, citing sources briefed on the move. The industrialist is said to have told senior colleagues on Thursday that he was not intending to make payments on financing facilities from Greensill.