From the relieved “It’s (almost) over” to the wistful “Thank you Boris” – the British press is split over Boris Johnson’s resignation. Abroad, the outgoing prime minister got off less lightly.
Boris Johnson is going – albeit not quite (yet). The fact that the British Prime Minister on Thursday announced his resignation as leader of the Conservative Party and thus also (soon) as head of government did not only cause applause. While the majority of British media are celebrating Johnson’s departure as long overdue, some conservative newspapers are already mourning the controversial prime minister. The foreign press sees his end not least as a danger to Ukraine.
A look at the front pages of the divided British newspaper landscape and at the international press reactions.
Financial Times: “Now that Johnson has been persuaded to leave, he should do so quickly and unequivocally. A caretaker prime minister dragging a dysfunctional government through to the fall would be damaging at even the best of times — and these are not the best of times Times […] With the Tories still commanding a majority in Parliament and with more than two years before an election is due, a new leader can bring the party and the country to a more hopeful future – but only if the Tories Prioritize competence over dogma, unity over division, and responsibility over quick-wittedness.”
“Johnson gives up, defiant to the end,” the newspaper headlined:
‘The Guardian’: ‘He is still Prime Minister today. It is extraordinary that he reshuffled his cabinet on Thursday morning, just as he is finally preparing to resign. He intends to stay on for a few more weeks – possibly until at the Tory Party Conference in October. Such transitions were relatively uncontroversial under previous Prime Ministers. That is not the case with Johnson, for one simple reason. The others could be trusted, but he could not. The Labor Party is right to threaten a vote of confidence in the House of Commons should he try to stay in office. The Conservative Party must act swiftly and relentlessly to oust Johnson for good.”
“It’s (almost) over”: this is the conclusion of the “Guardian” on its front page:
“The Telegraph”: “Whatever the party wants to do next, it must do it quickly. The country will neither understand nor condone a protracted leadership dispute amid an economic crisis and the threat of a major war in Europe.” Johnson said these were the reasons why he was reluctant to resign and he considers it “eccentric” that he is being forced to do so by MPs who owe him their seats.He is right when he says that there are urgent problems that the government So his successor needs to be decided within days, not weeks, let alone months.”
The newspaper also deals with the successor question on the front page:
‘The Mirror’: The Mirror believes Johnson wants to stay on as PM to celebrate in a ‘lavish’ party long-planned for July 30 to mark his wedding last year. And here’s the tabloid’s headline: “Holding on to One Last Party”:
“The Times”: The national daily headlines “Johnson throws in the towel” and writes that his resignation has triggered a “bloody leadership dispute”. Columnist Iain Martin believes Johnson’s chaotic rule at Downing Street is leaving his successor with a “nightmare legacy”.
“The Daily Mail: The Conservative tabloid supports the outgoing PM. Tory MPs would ‘rue the day’ they ousted their leader, it says here. It is the ‘day the Tories had “lost their minds”.
“What the hell have they done?” rages the front page under a photo released by Downing Street’s PR department of Johnson holding his young son. Opposition leader Keir Starmer would turn out to be “a rooster in a basket,” and champagne corks would certainly pop in Brussels and Moscow, according to the Daily Mail.
“The Sun”: The influential tabloid “The Sun” also relies on the family photo of the Johnsons. “Kiss goodbye … and thank you for Brexit, Boris,” the newspaper headlined:
“Daily Express”: The conservative newspaper “Daily Express” is similarly shocked. “Thank you Boris, you gave freedom back to Britain,” reads the front page:
Here’s how the press outside of the UK is reacting
“Irish Times” (Dublin, Ireland): “In his speech, Johnson admitted no personal responsibility for his own downfall, no mea culpa, no remorse for the lies and subterfuges, or for his inability to make difficult decisions. His willingness There was no mention of flouting rules and treaties and breaking one’s word when solemn agreements become awkward, nor of how much Britain has lost its reputation as an honorable partner on the world stage […] Johnson’s determination Remaining at the helm as acting prime minister – effectively a lame duck – until a new head of government is elected will not go unchallenged.
“Wall Street Journal” (New York, USA): “British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ousting is one for the history books and chimes dramatically with his personal charisma and the audacity he displayed in his pro-Brexit – which made him brought to power – showed. His failure in office is also a warning to the ruling Tories and to conservative parties around the world that governing to the left is a futile strategy when it comes to the economy. […]
The exception to this record is foreign policy. Johnson has proved a strong and effective supporter of Ukraine since Russia’s invasion, a key counterbalance to Germany’s Olaf Scholz and France’s Emmanuel Macron. The Kremlin applauds his fall.”
“Le Figaro” (Paris, France): “Alone, abandoned by his ministers and his party, the Conservative leader (Boris Johnson) pays for the series of crises and scandals that diverted attention from his early successes [… ] Two-thirds of Britons accuse (their Prime Minister) “BoJo” of lacking integrity, competence and respectability because of the UK’s foolish adherence to one principle: legislators must obey the law who come from them. […] The slyness has become a farce, the Brits are tired of the spectacle and Johnson promises to go. But he won’t go – not before he has attended the fight for his successor until the autumn civil war in his party leaving him as the only way out? That would be BoJo’s greatest magic trick.”
“Neue Züricher Zeitung” (Zurich, Switzerland): “At the head of government, there needs to be a person who can lead and motivate a high-calibre team of cabinet mates. A person who can set and follow government priorities. And a person who informed himself about the most important government business with commitment, willingness to work and tenacity and monitored their implementation. None of this has ever interested Johnson.”
“Corriere della Sera” (Milan, Italy): ” To the last, the new Houdini – another of his nicknames – tried to free himself from the chains, but this time he failed. […] The Conservative Party of Great Britain – the Tories – home of Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher – will be paying for the ‘Boris bill’ for a long time to come. Maybe with an election defeat, certainly with a blemish on their reputation. Will tradition and resilience be enough to make Britain strong again? Probably yes, but it will take time […] Who knows, maybe one day there will even be a return under the blue flag of the big European family.”
“El Mundo” (Madrid, Spain): “Since he no longer has any moral authority at all and his popularity is at an all-time low, an immediate resignation of Johnson would be for both his party, which has to reinvent itself, and for them necessary stability of the United Kingdom the most desirable […]
No one sheds a tear for the disgraced prime minister. Not in the UK, which is so desperate to rid itself of a leader who has shamed the country like no other person before it. Nor in the European Union, which is now hoping that Johnson’s successor will ease negotiations on the many outstanding fronts surrounding Brexit.”
“Lidove noviny” (Prague, Czech Republic): “With Boris Johnson, a person is leaving who has made lying a working tool. He lied about his private life, about history, about politics and even about his rides on his bike. The Brits knew that and still voted for him because he was entertaining. And in the fractious Conservative Party he promised all factions what they wanted to hear. Is this the end of the Clown Johnson? For now yes, but it would be premature to call him definitely write it off. After all, the lost presidential election of 2020 in the USA should not be the final end for Donald Trump either.”
“Rzeczpospolita” (Warsaw, Poland): “Johnson has disappointed the British people with Brexit […] However, in relation to Ukraine, he pursued a remarkably consistent and far-sighted policy, supplying Kyiv with significant amounts of arms and urging that The West has imposed tough sanctions on Russia. Unlike Emmanuel Macron or Olaf Scholz, he has not sought talks with Vladimir Putin. A change in this policy in London would have all the more serious consequences, since doubts are also arising in Washington as to whether such ruthless action should be taken against Moscow . The continuation of current British politics depends on who replaces the Prime Minister.”
Sources: “The Guardian”; dpa