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‘Mortally wounded’ Boris Johnson urged by papers to ‘go with dignity’

‘Mortally wounded’ Boris Johnson urged by papers to ‘go with dignity’
The resignations continued on Friday morning with the departure of Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis.

The Prime Minister is encouraged by almost all of the papers to abandon his attempts to save his premiership.

The overall mood amid resignations and potential leadership challenges is best summarised by The Times’ leading article, which closes: “Britain will not function effectively while he tarries.”

The Sun runs “Resign! Resign! Resign!” along the top of its page 4 and 5 spread, before calling Boris Johnson a “greased piglet” on the following double-page piece.

The editorial in the paper’s opinion section is more balanced, acknowledging Mr Johnson got the “big calls” right.

“Boris must ask himself if he honestly believes he can revive his battered authority and truly deliver for them,” it says.

“If he can’t, he should go with dignity.”

The Daily Telegraph describes the Prime Minister in its front page headline as “mortally wounded” and indicates that Conservative MPs will look to further sabotage him.

Inside, the leading article says Mr Johnson’s difficulty “is that it is not the opposition that has concluded he is no longer fit to be Prime Minister but a majority in his own party”.

Sajid Javid stepped aside as health secretary the same day as Rishi Sunak’s departure as chancellor (Beresford Hodge/PA)
Sajid Javid stepped aside as health secretary the same day as Rishi Sunak’s departure as chancellor (Beresford Hodge/PA)

“Mr Johnson said he wanted to get on with the task of governing. His MPs are unlikely to let him,” the Telegraph adds.

The Times says of the PM: “He has to go, and his few remaining parliamentary allies should prevail upon him to do so as his sole chance of retaining a semblance of dignity.”

The paper’s leader adds that Mr Johnson appears to be convinced that his “thumping” win in 2019 means he has “some special connection” to the electorate.

“This is delusional. Britain has a parliamentary system. Prime ministers are not directly elected by the voters. They hold their position by dint of commanding the support of a majority of MPs.

“Mr Johnson does not have that support. He has forfeited it principally by his behaviour in office.”

The article’s closing is clear: “Britain will not function effectively while he tarries.”

The sooner the Prime Minister goes off to make some money the better. It won’t be long now

The Independent

The Guardian calls the Prime Minister “desperate” and “deluded” in its front-page headline, while The Independent looks forward to the end of “a chaotic, amoral administration”.

“And so the nasty, brutish and short premiership of Boris Johnson draws to its appropriately messy conclusion,” the paper writes in its page 2 editorial.

“Framed entirely by Brexit and Covid, it was also one of the strangest of modern administrations, comparable only with the wartime governments of Lloyd George and Winston Churchill for its focus on existential threats.

“Contrary to his propaganda, neither of these transcendent emergencies was well managed, and the divisions created by the Johnson Government represent a toxic legacy. Partygate devalues the vaccine rollout; Brexit devalues everything else. It was a chaotic, amoral administration.

“The sooner the Prime Minister goes off to make some money the better. It won’t be long now.”

“Boris stares down the mutiny”, reads the headline of the Daily Mail front page, with the paper’s comment piece calling Mr Johnson “without question the most extraordinary politician of his generation” – before throwing context on the situation.

“Yes, the PM has made mistakes, misjudgments and misdemeanours. But let’s be honest, they have hardly been Watergate,” the paper writes.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

“The truth is, many of these problems would not have blown up had Mr Johnson been honest in the first place and not tried to cover them up,” it adds.

The paper then potentially looks to the future, saying that “whoever the Tory leader is” they need to prioritise “authentic” Conservative policies like tax cuts, free-market enterprise and creating a nimble post-Brexit economy

“This is not just a psychodrama surrounding Mr Johnson. It is an existential crisis for the Tories. It is no exaggeration to say the country’s very future hangs in the balance,” it says.

The leader of the Daily Express makes note of Mr Johnson’s victory at the 2019 general election, adding that “if his opponents hope to drive him out of No 10, it is up to them to take his mandate away”.

“In the past, a visit from a party grandee may have been enough to force a prime minister out of office. But it is now clear that those days are gone.”

The Express also raises the prospect of an extra confidence vote as a way of resolving the situation.

The 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers could decide what happens next for Boris Johnson (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
The 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers could decide what happens next for Boris Johnson (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“It is certainly true that the 1922 Committee – the body representing backbench Tory MPs – could choose to allow a second confidence vote to take place, making it clear whether Mr Johnson retains the support of his Parliamentary colleagues or not,” it states.

“Whether they will take this step remains to be seen. They are entitled to do so if they choose. Equally, Mr Johnson is perfectly entitled to say he will remain in office until any such vote takes place, and ask his party to back him if the time comes.”

The i newspaper uses a similar front-page photo to other papers of the Prime Minister in profile under the headline “Cabinet coup”, with the paper adding that Mr Johnson has been “humiliated”.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mirror, like Metro, twists the Prime Minister’s Brexit slogan as it calls on its front page for the Government to “Get exit done”.

Inside, the paper’s editorial says the moment has come “for the curtain to fall on Boris Johnson’s tawdry and tainted time in Downing Street”.

“This is a defunct administration led by a zombie premier,” the piece adds.

“Mr Johnson may try to stay in office but he will no longer be in power.”

The paper says the Uxbridge and South Ruislip MP “has left us with a morally and economically bankrupt country”.

“The exit door stands ajar.

“For the sake of decency, honesty and trust he must be forced to go.”