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What the papers say – March 15

Britain waits for Russia’s response to retaliation over the poisoning of spy Sergei Skripal while the world mourns Professor Stephen Hawking.

Britain’s retaliation over the Salisbury spy poisoning, its ramifications and tributes to Professor Stephen Hawking lead most papers on Thursday.

The Government is awaiting the Kremlin’s response to Theresa May’s decision to eject 23 Russian diplomats, the biggest such expulsion since the Cold War.

Meanwhile nearly all the papers carry images of Prof Hawking, whose death aged 76 on Wednesday saw an outpouring of tributes from around the world.

“Cold War II” reads the headline on the Daily Mirror’s front page, the paper saying Britain is braced for Russian president Vladimir Putin to take “revenge” over the diplomatic exclusions.

The Guardian leads with Russia, but dedicates much of its front page to Prof Hawking, saying the theoretical physicist was “the brightest star in the firmament of science”.

The Financial Times highlights that the response has already been faster and more extensive than that seen after the death of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006, while it describes Prof Hawking as “one of the most brilliant scientists of his age”.

The Daily Mail focuses on criticism of Jeremy Corbyn’s comments on the Russia crisis, beneath a picture of a fit and healthy Prof Hawking as a young boy before the onset of motor neuron disease.

The Sun also leads with reaction to the Labour leader’s position, saying Mr Corbyn was accused of being Mr Putin’s “puppet”.

Meanwhile The Times leads with France’s view of the crisis, saying the country had “undermined” Mrs May by accusing her of acting prematurely.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson will warn Britain is at a “profound moment in its history” and will unveil new measures to tackle chemical and biological warfare, the Daily Telegraph reports.

The Independent says British soldiers will receive injections to protect them against anthrax, while Mr Williamson will announce a new £48 million facility at the Porton Down chemical warfare lab.

The Daily Express reports on the death of Nikolai Glushkov, a Russian businessman living in London who was a close associate of a fierce critic of Mr Putin.

And the i dedicates its front page to Prof Hawking.


From Belfast Telegraph