‘Disgrace’: what the papers said as Boris Johnson faces calls to resign

The newspaper front pages have piled the pressure on Boris Johnson as the prime minister fights for his political life over the scandal of the “bring your own booze” lockdown-era party at Downing Street.

The Mirror’s banner headline on Thursday is “Disgrace”, set below a picture of Johnson giving his humiliating apology to the Commons for “not realising” the event in the back garden of 10 Downing Street on 20 May 2020 was a party.

In a lengthy subhead, the Mirror says: “First, Johnson said no rules were broken … then he said he didn’t know about any parties … now he admits he was at one of them … but didn’t realise it was a party.”

The Guardian’s main headline is “PM’s future on knife-edge after No 10 party apology”, and reports that there is widespread “derision” over his claim that he did not realise he was attending a party.

Times also has a picture of a grim-faced Johnson in the Commons and the headline “Defiant PM refuses to quit as polls slip further”, while the FT has “Johnson faces Tory calls to quit after attending lockdown party” and the i says “Tories call on ⁦Boris Johnson to resign”.

The Scotsman naturally takes the strong Scottish angle on the drama given the role played by Tory leader Douglas Ross in leading calls for the prime minister to quit: “Scots Tories lead rebellion despite ⁦Johnson’s apology”.

The Daily Record’s splash is a bit more direct – “Cock and Bull Tory” – and nor does the National hold back, screaming “Liar”.

The Telegraph takes a slightly different tack with its story headlined “Sunak leaves Johnson in limbo”, focusing on the chancellor’s half-hearted backing for the embattled PM. A comment piece by columnist Juliet Samuel on the front page has the headline “PM buys time at cost of public mockery by admitting he’s an idiot”.

In a possible sign of the seriousness of the situation, the Mail and Express have both decided it is time to circle the wagons around the PM – a sharp contrast with their treatment of the story earlier this week. “Operation Save Boris” says the Mail, reporting that “cabinet rallies round” but that “ambitious Rishi’s lukewarm support” spells trouble ahead.

Express headline is “I’m Sorry … but now prove you can deliver for Britain”.

The Star joins in the fun with a splash headline saying “Rules are only for little people!” and the Metro has “Sorry… not sorry”.

On any other day, the news that the civil case can proceed against Prince Andrew over sexual abuse allegations would lead most papers. Only the Sun rates it as the best today though with the splash head: “Damned old Duke of York”.

Further afield, the Washington Post says there is one question that Britons are asking: What were you doing on 20 May 2020?”. It says “heartbreaking” interviews with people about their lockdown sacrifices reveal a “growing sense of betrayal” and increase pressure on Johnson. Also in the US, the furore has prompted the New York Times to round up all those other grovelling apologies.

In Spain, El Pais says Johnson “does what no one would expect, and acts as if he is exempt from the rules that apply to the rest of the mortals”.

The French newspaper Libération says that after “arrogant victories and pungent slogans”, the party is over for Johnson.


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