The chaotic choreography of Boris Johnson’s sort-of resignation as prime minister delivered some contrasting front pages on Friday.
The Guardian has a poster-style front page with a picture of an “unrepentant” Johnson during his resignation speech and the headline “It’s (almost) over” in which the words in parentheses are reduced to much smaller point size.
Inside, Jonathan Freedland says that Johnson’s toxic spell on Britain has been broken after the “congenital bullshit artist” was finally caught out by his own lies.
The Financial Times also highlights the outgoing leader’s “unapologetic” tone in its splash headlined “Johnson quits, defiant to the end”. However, Robert Shrimsley’s front page column says that despite losing the trust of MPs, his historical significance is “indisputable”.
The Mirror has an intriguing claim that Johnson wants to stay on as prime minister in order to hold a “lavish” party at Chequers that has long been pencilled in for 30 July to celebrate his wedding to Carrie last year. “Clinging on for one last party” the headline says.
The Times goes with “Johnson throws in towel”, reporting that his resignation has triggered a “bloody leadership contest”. Columnist Iain Martin says Johnson’s chaotic reign in Downing Street bequeaths his successor a “nightmare inheritance”.
The succession question is front and centre in the Telegraph which goes in on a warning from “senior Tories” that Johnson’s desire to hang on until autumn means the government will become paralysed: “PM’s long goodbye leaves UK in ‘state of paralysis’”.
The Downing Street PR machine’s release of pictures showing Johnson holding his young son Wilfred would have been intended to soften the resignation coverage, but the Mail doubles down with a sclerotic splash about how Tory MPs will “rue the day” they forced their leader out of office.
“What the hell have they done?” the front page fumes, claiming that Keir Starmer will be “cock a hoop” and that champagne corks will be popping in Brussels and Moscow. It was, the paper says, the “day Tories lost their marbles”.
For the Express, it is the day to remember the man who made Brexit happen. “Thank you Boris … you gave Britain back its freedom” the splash headline says.
The Sun uses the family picture and is also keen to remember what propelled Johnson to power. “Kiss goodbye”, the headline reads, adding below “… and thanks for Brexit”.
“Going, going … but not gone” says the Scotsman …
… and Metro has “Leave means leave”.
The i has a simple “Downfall” and says the PM was “humiliated” by having to resign in front of a large crowd in Downing Street.
The Daily Record lists a long charge sheet against Johnson, including Partygate, the Pincher affair, the wallpaper row, and “lie after lie”, and concludes with its verdict: “Worst PM ever’