‘Desperate, deluded’: UK front pages mix disbelief with Johnson’s message of defiance

The UK newspapers feast on another day of high drama at Westminster

A blood-curdling vow to fight to the death, despair among Tory grandees at the impending loss of their champion, and incredulity that Boris Johnson is still hanging on – it is all part of the mix as the UK newspapers feast on another day of high drama at Westminster.

In what it calls an “exclusive” on “Defiant Boris’s message to Tory rebels”, the Sun splashes with the headline “You’ll have to dip your hands in blood to get rid of me”. A “key ally” of the prime minister repeats the No 10 briefing line that the rebels will have to overturn the “will of the people” if they want to oust Johnson.

Johnson’s supposed fightback is also the theme of the Daily Mail’s front page, with the headline “Boris stares down the mutiny” and a tease to its coverage inside on the “poison” and the “plots”.

Its columnist, Stephen Glover, laments the inevitable fall of the Tory party’s one-time hero.


“The truth is that it is all over,” he writes. “Boris Johnson must go now – for his own good, for his party’s good and the country’s good. This may be a cruel way to treat a man who has done some good things, but whoever said that politics was fair?”

Joining the Mail in the Downing Street bunker is the Express, which has the front page headline: “PM’s last stand: back me or face political oblivion”.

It’s a colder world outside the bunker however, with the Telegraph sounding resigned to the fact that Johnson will have to go. “Mortally wounded PM defies Cabinet demands that he quit”, says its headline

Also on its front page, Camilla Tominey bemoans Johnson’s betrayal of his party’s values and his failure to follow the Thatcher lodestar.

“A great deal of the criticism levelled at Mr Johnson in recent months has been as much about his lack of delivery as his lack of judgment. It isn’t just his character and his competence that has been called into question, but his Conservatism.”

“Johnson fights for his life” says the front of the Times, with the same picture as the Telegraph showing the prime minister gritting his teeth and clenching his fists in the Commons.

Inside, Max Hastings welcomes the prospect of a more “serious” resident at No 10.

“For three years we have allowed ourselves to be governed by people preoccupied overwhelmingly with their personal interests, bereft of a credible prospectus for our society. We now need a prime minister who will restore dignity and self-respect to the country and its governance.”

“Desperate, deluded PM clings to power” says the Guardian’s splash. It reports that while Johnson continues in office, much of the party has already started to consider who should replace him, with Sajid Javid the frontrunner.

The Financial Times is suitably understated with its splash headline of “Johnson rocked by cabinet revolt”.

The Metro uses one of Johnson’s favourite lines against him in its front page headline: “Get exit done Boris”.

“Cabinet coup” says the i, which lines up a rogues gallery of cabinet ministers who, in echoes of the downfall of Margaret Thatcher, went to see Johnson on Wednesday to tell him it was time to go.

The Daily Record provides a neat summary, however, with the headline “Never ending Tory”.

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