The Times reports that Boris Johnson is expected to be among 50 people questioned by police investigating lockdown parties at Downing Street.
The paper says last night’s announcement by Scotland Yard overshadowed the prime minister’s attempts to overhaul No 10 with a mini-reshuffle.
According to the Telegraph, detectives plan to send questionnaires with “formal legal status” to dozens of people suspected of being involved in the gatherings.
It says the move both “suggests the police inquiry is entering its final stage” and threatens to “complicate” efforts by Mr Johnson to draw a line under the partygate saga.
The i warns that the Met’s update “shows how tricky it will be” for what it calls this “Olympian contortionist” of a prime minister to evade a fine for breaking his own Covid laws – but says it expects him to try.
With the headline “Freedom!” the Express features Mr Johnson’s announcement that coronavirus rules in England could end in a fortnight – a month earlier than planned.
The Mail says the prime minister boasted to allies he had “got Covid done” – and No 10 sources have told the paper they’re confident the UK will be the first major country to lift all coronavirus restrictions.
But the Guardian says some scientists are concerned the change risks sending a signal that the pandemic is all over, while unions have warned that the government is “going way too far, way too soon”.
The proposal to end restrictions in England ahead of schedule is welcomed by several papers.
The Sun gives thanks for the “miraculous” vaccines rolled out by the NHS and praises Mr Johnson for “facing down scaremongering boffins and dodgy forecasts”.
For the Mail, this “final unshackling… hugely vindicates Mr Johnson’s Covid strategy”.
But the Mirror isn’t convinced, arguing the absence of senior government advisors at Wednesday’s announcement “fuels the theory this was a political decision by a prime minister desperate to avoid a leadership challenge”.
The front page of the Sun says there’s been a “huge backlash” against the West Ham footballer Kurt Zouma, after footage emerged of him kicking one of his cats.
The paper says the French defender has been fined £250k, lost sponsorship deals and been dropped by his team. “Good”, says the paper, before asking “what possessed” West Ham to condemn the abuse but then select the player for a match on Tuesday night.
The Star is also appalled, describing Zouma’s actions as “disgusting” and “evil”. The paper says he must be prosecuted “or other sick individuals may think they can get away with this sort of behaviour”.
The Telegraph claims energy “surge pricing” is set to be introduced for millions of households, after three of the UK’s largest suppliers backed a revolutionary overhaul of the market.
Scottish Power, EDF and Octopus Energy are said to support plans for smart meters to record energy use every half-hour, paving the way for higher prices during peak periods.
The paper says there’s no suggestion firms will force customers to adopt surge pricing, but acknowledges the tariffs will be far easier to roll out from 2025 when half-hourly updates are set to become the default option for millions of smart meters, rather than something households must opt in to.