Instant Opinion: ‘Boris Johnson: Britain’s new nadir’

The Week’s daily round-up highlights the five best opinion pieces from across the British and international media, with excerpts from each.

1. The Irish Times Editorial

on Boris Johnson

Britain’s new nadir

“How far can Britain fall? The Brexit debacle has already left the country bitterly divided, its parliament paralysed, its influence diminished and its reputation shattered. And now, a new nadir: Boris Johnson is set to become prime minister. That means things could still get a lot worse. Johnson is a profoundly unserious man wildly unsuited to high office. That’s to put it generously. In normal times, his ineptitude – on full display during his time as foreign secretary – would hold his country back. In these times of crisis, his character flaws could prove catastrophic.”

2. Sean O’Grady in The Independent

on the realities of governing

A peacetime prime minister has never faced bigger challenges than Boris Johnson

“Obviously the transcendent issue of his premiership will be the same as the one that wrecked his predecessor’s career – delivering Brexit. So much has been written about this there doesn’t seem to be much to add. As has so often been remarked, the parliamentary arithmetic remains the same, the attitude of the EU remains the same, and the sheer logical force of the Irish backstop retains its terrifying potency. It is, in other words, not a tussle about a used car, where one side or other can offer another £200 on the trade-in to get the deal done. Rather, it is as if one side is arguing that 2+2=4, and the other insists that 2+2=5, because there are technical ways of making it so, but that anyway they’ll settle for 4.5. It’s really about that fundamental tenet of Johnsonism – having your cake and eating it. And what you do when you discover it is impossible, and that no amount of ‘positive energy’ can make it happen. Make a joke, obviously, and call the French turds – but then what?”

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3. Ross Clark in The Daily Telegraph

on a decades-long political struggle

Can Boris finally win the battle for the soul of the Tory party?

“If Boris does go on to succeed in taking us out of the EU with a renegotiated deal, what then? It will be no use the anti-Boris faction trying to claim success for steering Boris towards a deal. They will have been humiliated. Boris will have achieved his aims in spite of every attempt by rebels to light a fire under his plans. The battle for the soul of the Tory party which has raged for the past three decades will finally have been resolved in favour of the Eurosceptics, the Brexiteers. For the rebels, the only option will be retirement – or defection to the Lib Dems.”

4. Former Tory MP Matthew Parris in The Times

on the takeover of the Conservative Party

Clowns join the country club in Tory get-together

“The final hustings in London between the man who’s now our new prime minister and Jeremy Hunt, was a strange experience for me. There was a woman in a dress made from a Union Jack; there was a chap who in every aspect struck one as the kind of respectable old Tory one meets at lunch parties, except he had dyed his hair luminous yellow. And then from the rostrum there was earnest talk from Hunt about defence spending in an altered global environment. It was like a dream in which Zippo’s Circus meets a Lloyd’s insurance symposium: the point of total fusion being when Johnson was asked by a journalist if he was tinting his hair. There was, however, a darker side to the surrealism. Johnson had spoken first. Before Hunt, following him, had even taken the stage, a large number of (presumably) Boris supporters among the audience walked out. I do not believe that, had the order of speakers been reversed, Hunt’s supporters would have done the same, and I know which side I’d rather be on. Hunt spoke well but many boorish attendees chose not to hear him. This is not the Conservative Party I joined.”

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5. Roger Cohen in The New York Times

on a new special relationship

Boris Johnson Faces a Swift and Bloody Nemesis

“In Donald Trump, consuming vanity is coupled with consuming ignorance. Johnson is equally vain but not equally ignorant. Trump’s wacko meets Johnson’s eccentricity. Johnson has lied, pandered and guffawed his disheveled way to the highest office in the land, aping the bumbling buffoon and doing great damage. But he’s no fool. He knows his comeuppance is upon him. Unless Johnson, who once penned a book called “The Churchill Factor,” is suddenly inhabited by an access of statesmanship, he could well become the shortest-lived prime minister in British history.”



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