'Who runs Britain?': Papers divided over court's 'damning indictment' of PM

The Guardian Politics 1 month ago

The stunning supreme court ruling, which found Boris Johnson’s suspension of parliament “unlawful”, is unsurprisingly the lead on all the newspapers today.

The Guardian’s headline is: “He misled the Queen, the people and parliament.” The paper says a “humiliated” Boris Johnson was forced to “fly back to face furious MPs” but says he struck a “defiant” tone after the “crushing” verdict.

The FT reports along a similar vein: “A chastened Boris Johnson will fly back to London today to face calls for his resignation after the supreme court dealt a severe blow to his authority and his attempt to stop MPs from holding him to account on Brexit,” it says under the headline: “Johnson faces calls to resign as judges rule parliament’s closure ‘unlawful’”. The paper called the court’s ruling a “damning indictment” of the prime minister.

The Express questions the ruling: “Unlawful? What’s lawful about denying 17.4m Brexit!” The paper calls the decision by the supreme court “shattering”, but reminds readers: “Let’s not forget Britain voted to quit the EU 1,189 days ago …”

The Telegraph is also concerned about actions that may stop Brexit, quoting the prime minister: “‘Let’s be in no doubt, there are a lot of people who want to frustrate Brexit’”.

The paper reports that Boris Johnson will try to force a general election this week “after accusing Britain’s highest court of frustrating ‘the will of the people’ by overruling his decision to prorogue parliament”.

The Times’s splash is: “PM flies back to chaos”, saying the prime minister returns from the United Nations summit in New York “facing calls to resign”.

The paper highlights Johnson’s disagreement with the court decision, saying it “was part of an attempt to frustrate Brexit as senior allies attacked the decision as unconstitutional”.

The Sun’s headline is “Ooh, you are lawful … but we don’t like you!”, a play on the Dick Emery catchphrase that reveals the demographic either of its readers or the paper’s subeditors.

Its lead story is based on reaction to the supreme court’s decision. The paper says its readers “reacted with fury” to the news and “bombarded us with messages of support for the PM”, saying: “Many blasted the ‘unelected’ judges and hailed Boris’s battle to deliver Brexit. Dave Martin of Sheffield, wrote: ‘The elite have shafted us again.’”

The Mirror’s front page features portraits of Britain’s shortest-serving prime ministers and the number of days they served in the job (the shortest being George Canning – 119 days), next to a photograph of Boris Johnson (“63 days … so far”, says the paper) alongside a headline: “There’s a special place in history waiting for you, prime minister”.

“Shamed Boris set for shortest term amid calls to quit,” says the paper, which calls Johnson’s time in the job “a shambolic and disastrous turn”. It also draws attention to the fact that “he lied to the Queen over his reasons for prorogation”.

The Mail says “Boris blasts: who runs Britain?”, saying that the prime minister “declared war on the judiciary last night” after the supreme court’s verdict.

The paper goes on: “The judgment prompted fury in No 10, with one senior ally of the prime minister saying: ‘The effect of this is to pose the question, who runs this country? Are the courts saying they want to run the country now?’”

The i has a less defiant take on this, with the headline: “Humiliated PM refuses to resign”. The paper calls the decision by the court a “crushing blow”, but quotes the prime minister who says he “‘strongly disagrees’ with the unanimous verdict and will not apologise as he is forced to cut short US visit and fly back to London”.

The Scotsman has a striking front page, with a full page photograph of Johnson’s face in black and white with the headline in red text: “Unlawful”. The paper also has quote from John Major on its front: “‘No prime minister must ever treat the monarch or Parliament in this way again.’”

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