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Home » The Papers: Hester ‘gave £5m More’ And Russia ‘jams Shapps Jet’

The Papers: Hester ‘gave £5m More’ And Russia ‘jams Shapps Jet’

Image caption, A variety of stories lead Friday’s papers. The i reports that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has ended speculation that he will hold an early general election on 2 May, though adds that anxiety in No 10 is growing as angry Tory MPs increasingly question his authority. The paper quotes one MP saying there has been a “definite vibe shift” caused by the handling of comments by donor Frank Hester, who is alleged to have said MP Diane Abbott made him “want to hate all black women”. The MP says their colleagues have gone from “being resigned, quitting, to being angry”.

Image caption, The Guardian reports that Mr Hester has given the Conservative Party a further £5m this year on top of the £10.2m previously reported and says Mr Sunak is facing increasing pressure to give the money back. It says the donation, originally reported by Tortoise, will be confirmed in the next Electoral Commission update on donations, which is due to be released in early June.

Image caption, An RAF jet being flown in by Defence Secretary Grant Shapps suffered a satellite and communications blackout after its systems were jammed by Russian electronic warfare units, the Daily Mail reports. The paper says the incident, which lasted 30 minutes, occurred on Wednesday as the plane was flying over the Baltic Sea and triggered a “major security alert”.

Image caption, The Financial Times says Mr Sunak has been accused of presiding over a “zombie parliament” after analysis by the paper showed the average working day for MPs in the House of Commons chamber has been shorter in this parliamentary session than in any other since 1997. It says the average day in the current session, which began in November, has been seven hours and nine minutes, while the average between 1997 and 2023 was seven hours and 58 minutes. “There’s very little going on day to day,” one minister is quoted as saying.

Image caption, MPs are to debate the legalisation of assisted dying following a campaign by broadcaster Esther Rantzen, who has terminal cancer, the Daily Express reports. The paper quotes Rantzen urging her supporters to make sure the “voice of the people is heard”.

Image caption, The Times reports that two thirds of incapacity benefit claims – amounting to 20,000 a month – are because of mental health issues. The paper says experts have warned there will be “no quick fix for a benefits bill that is surging as a result of increasingly complex illnesses” and that the issue has “intensified political alarm” about the rising cost of ill-health benefits to the taxpayer.

Image caption, Paramedics have raised concerns that plans to introduce electric ambulance in the NHS will mean longer waits for patients because of the time it will take to charge them, according to the Daily Telegraph. The paper says the move has also led to fears that the “drive for net zero is being put above patient safety”.

Image caption, The Daily Mirror reports that the widow of Matt Ratana, a police officer shot dead after an arrested man was able to smuggle a gun into a south London custody suite, is suing the Metropolitan Police. The paper quotes Su Bushby saying that, if an “effective search” had been carried out, the gun would have been found.

Image caption, A report has found that a fault in Britain’s air traffic control system last August was prolonged because IT engineers were working from home, according to the Metro. The paper says the issue grounded 750,000 passengers at airports across the UK and that it took 90 minutes for an on-call expert to arrive on-site and reboot the system.

Image caption, And the Daily Star says Nasa has “found booze in space”. The paper reports the agency has detected ethanol molecules that it says “could help Earth-like planets grow in our galaxy”.