Newspaper headlines: Johnson 'fights for life' and 'stares down mutiny'

By BBC News

  • Published
Boris JohnsonImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
More than 40 ministers have resigned from Boris Johnson's government since Tuesday

There is just one story on every front page of Thursday's newspapers.

"Desperate" and "deluded" is the Guardian's verdict on Boris Johnson's attempt to cling on to power. The paper says the prime minister is "locked in an unprecedented standoff" with his own cabinet, as he hunkers down and tries to see out the storm.

For the Daily Telegraph, he is "mortally wounded" - after a day "unlike anything in modern political history." Looking ahead to the prospect of a second confidence vote on Mr Johnson's leadership, the paper reports that the government whips' office has calculated he would get just 65 votes from a total of 360 Conservative MPs.

The Times agrees he is "fighting for his life" after ending a "day of chaos" with the sacking of Michael Gove. An ally of the prime minister tells the paper it was "something he should have done years ago".

More cabinet ministers are teetering on the brink - with the paper reporting that even his staunch ally, Jacob Rees-Mogg, has "reservations" about whether he can continue.

In the paper's cartoon, Boris Johnson is lying in a coffin, his hand raised in the air, asking "can I keep the wallpaper?"

The Times also claims that the new Chancellor, Nadhim Zahawi, has been secretly planning a bid for the Conservative leadership "for months" - working with close allies of the political strategist, Lynton Crosby.

According to the paper, Mr Zahawi's plan includes cutting corporation tax and VAT, and it is understood he is ready to "activate" his campaign immediately.

Reflecting on the speed with which Boris Johnson's authority has "drained away", the Financial Times notes that he cut a diminished figure at yesterday's Prime Minister's Questions.

In its editorial, the paper says Mr Johnson's departure is "long overdue" - after months of "drift and disarray", as inflation creeps towards 11%, and millions worry about how to make ends meet.

The i newspaper says Mr Johnson has been "humiliated" - with resigning ministers "reading the last rites" on his political career.

The Metro and the Daily Mirror keep it simple with the same headline - "Get Exit Done". For the Mirror, it's "time for the curtain to fall" on Boris Johnson's premiership. The paper's editorial describes his attempts to hang on as "supreme vanity" and an "insult to the country."

Image source, WPA Pool
Image caption,
Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove was sacked after calling for Mr Johnson to resign in a meeting

But for the Daily Mail, Boris Johnson's determination to "stare down" his mutinous cabinet is a "stunning show of defiance" - with the prime minister "digging in for a fight" at the end of an extraordinary day.

The Daily Express says it's his "last stand," with Boris Johnson warning his party to "back him or face political oblivion".

The Sun quotes an ally of Mr Johnson, who tells the paper he has a "defiant message" for the rebels: "You'll have to dip your hands in blood to get rid of me."

And away from the drama at Westminister, the Times reports on two extraordinary football matches in Sierra Leone.

One that ended 95-nil, and another at 91-1. The paper says almost all of the goals were scored in the second half - at a rate of almost two a minute.

Unsurprisingly, the country's football association has cried foul. The two winning teams were fighting it out for the last place in the league, with just their goal difference to separate them. Officials and players are now being investigated for match fixing.