London—Boris Johnson’s resignation as UK Prime Minister dominated newspaper front pages in Britain on Friday, with the press grappling to digest an extraordinary two days of politics.
As late as Wednesday night, Johnson had been defiantly clinging to power despite a wave of more than 50 government resignations.
But a fresh round of high-profile departures early Thursday and warnings of a second no-confidence vote next week by MPs from his Conservative (Tory) party changed his mind, and he stood down on Thursday.
“It’s (almost) over”, the Guardian wrote, calling Johnson’s time in office “one of the most divisive and turbulent periods in British politics”.
The Times led with “Johnson throws in towel”, labelling the events of the last few days as “increasingly desperate attempts” to stay in power.
Johnson’s unrepentant resignation speech on Thursday led the Financial Times to dub him “defiant to the end”.
The scandal-ridden leader said he would stay on until his successor is found.
But the Tory-friendly Daily Telegraph, quoting senior Conservative figures, said the “long goodbye” left the United Kingdom in a “state of paralysis”, and one of the ministers who resigned told the Times that Johnson would be running a “zombie government”.
Polling suggested most Britons want Johnson to go quickly, as claims surfaced that he is hanging on to enjoy a wedding party with his wife Carrie at his government-funded country retreat.
“Clinging on for one last party,” blared the leftwing tabloid Daily Mirror on Friday, a reference to the scandal over lockdown-breaking parties that helped bring Johnson down.
The Mirror added a pointed jab referencing a Brexit slogan: “Leave means leave, Boris”, with Metro also echoing the phrase.
On the other side of the political spectrum, the Daily Mail’s front page asked “What the hell have they done?”—characterizing Johnson as “cast out by a party in the grip of collective hysteria”.
A picture of Johnson hugging his wife Carrie and two young children accompanied the lead story, as it did in The Sun and the Daily Express.
And the pro-Brexit Daily Express’s front page read: “Thank you Boris… You gave Britain back its freedom”.
Saying Johnson had given up power “reluctantly, but with great dignity”, the newspaper nonetheless conceded his premiership had been “tumultuous”—a word that appeared repeatedly in all titles across the political spectrum.