‘On the brink’: how the Tory press turned on Boris Johnson (apart from the Express)

·5 min read

The Times: Game over
Boris Johnson is still clinging to office in Downing Street, despite the resignations yesterday of Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, and Sajid Javid, the health secretary. That is a mistake. He has lost the confidence of his party and the country. Just two weeks ago, the Conservatives suffered historic byelection defeats in two previously solid seats. That highlighted the depth of hostility to Mr Johnson in very different parts of the country and prompted the resignation of the party chairman. There is no conceivable chance that Mr Johnson, who failed to secure the backing of 148 MPs in a confidence vote last month, can recover his authority to provide the effective leadership that the country needs at a time of acute national crisis. Every day that he remains deepens the sense of chaos. For the good of the country, he should go. What has brought Mr Johnson to this position is the same character flaws that have dogged his entire career: his persistent lying and flagrant disregard for the codes and conventions that necessarily underpin public life.

Related: The Guardian view on the cabinet resignations: endgame for Boris Johnson | Editorial

Daily Mail leader
Today, millions of his despairing supporters must feel like performing exactly the same gesture. For the Prime Minister is on the brink of being dethroned. It’s almost beyond belief. Less than three years ago, Boris Johnson led the Conservative Party to a landslide victory on a message of hope and One-Nation optimism. Today, his Government seems determined to devour itself. A string of sleaze scandals and regicidal plots in recent months had already destabilised Mr Johnson and the country at the worst possible time. The Mail has been urging loyal Tories to stand by their leader in these difficult times and allow him to get on with the job of running the country. A backbench coup failed and despite a trickle of low-level resignations, the party could have rediscovered its common cause and sense of purpose. Yesterday, however, the dam burst… …

There may yet be a way forward for Boris. If he is mortally wounded, however, those challenging to take his crown should remember: only under a government working to true Tory principles – low taxes, free markets and exploiting Brexit to the full – can Britain prosper.

Stephen Glover in the Daily Mail
Six weeks ago I expressed my fear in these pages that Boris’s ‘idiocies over Partygate symbolise a wider unsuitability for office that can never be corrected’. That – plus his lack of a coherent political plan – remains my view. Alas – in so many ways. In different circumstances Boris Johnson might have been a lasting success. He has so many gifts. And he is – whatever his critics say – a decent and a generous man. But after all that has happened, and despite his achievements, he appears now to be a doomed Prime Minister. Yes, what a waste and a tragedy it has been.

The Sun leader: A last chance
Time is running out for Boris Johnson. After the chaos of yesterday, the Tory Party might now decide time’s already up. What we care about is the plight of Sun readers. By appointing the impressive Nadhim Zahawi as his Chancellor, we have to hope he’s finally got the message … Despite his majority, Boris now has so many enemies in his ranks he seems unlikely to be able to use it to good effect. But he must try. The PM and his new Chancellor must slash duty and VAT on fuel and the green levies and VAT on energy – then set about cutting other taxes too to create growth and boost investment. He must cut the size of the State. Last night’s Cabinet resignations make his position dicey to put it mildly. Unless he delivers for the British people in short order it will be utterly untenable.

Daily Telegraph leader
Mr Johnson is nothing if not a fighter and may try to dig in and recast his top team, although who would want to join it at the moment is anyone’s guess. Today, he faces Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons and then is due to appear before a committee of senior MPs for a long-standing session attended by some of his fiercest critics in his own party. Neither promises to be an easy affair should he feel emboldened to carry on …

Lord Frost in the Daily Telegraph
This country now faces formidable challenges. Facing them requires not just the ability to talk about a vision but the determination and steeliness to establish a credible pathway to it. It requires a leader who knows where he wants to take the country and can set out how he intends to get there, in a way that is consistent with the traditional Conservative vision. I had hoped Boris Johnson could be that person, but I have realised that despite his undoubted skills he simply can’t be.

Philip Johnstone, Daily Telegraph columnist
Finally, and dramatically, it is all falling apart. After waiting for months to see if any senior member of the Cabinet had a backbone, we now find that there are at least two vertebrates. Maybe more will show their spines today

The Daily Express leader
This political drama could be the catalyst for a new era in the Johnson premiership in which he seeks to transform the country with even greater ambition. Those who still respect his genius for campaigning but are dismayed by mistakes and gaffes will now watch the PM intently for evidence he can unite the party and rapidly change Britain for the better. Mr Johnson will deploy his legendary gifts of persuasion to renew MPs’ faith. Rather than choreograph a graceful retreat, this Prime Minister plans to put his foot to the floor and accelerate ahead. His will to win is his greatest weapon, and he will relish the challenge of defying those who think him finished.