Cornered or correct? Papers give their view on Boris Johnson

By Alexander Britton, PA

Developments from a wild day in Westminster make the lion’s share of the headlines – after Boris Johnson failed in his bid to hold a snap general election.

Three of Thursday’s papers use variations of “cornered” to refer to Mr Johnson’s position – with the Government more than 100 votes shy of being able to call an October poll.

The defeat was Mr Johnson’s third in two days – after MPs voted to wrest control of Wednesday’s agenda and then pass a bill blocking a no-deal Brexit in October.

“Cornered Johnson suffers triple Commons defeat” is the headline in the Guardian, saying the PM’s aim for an October election was “rebuffed by Labour”.

The i also says the PM is “cornered” but includes the claim from Mr Johnson that his Labour counterpart is “chicken and frit” of an election.

Whereas other front pages take aim at Mr Corbyn, with the Daily Telegraph saying he is a “hypocrite” for repeatedly saying he wants a general election but not supporting Mr Johnson’s proposal, and the Daily Mail saying “Corbyn chickens out of an election”.

Inside the papers, and Times columnist Jenni Russell says that Britain is being “played on a grand scale”, writing that Mr Johnson intended to lose the vote – to usher in a showdown with Government.

She writes: “From this moment on, Johnson and the Tories are going to batter the electorate with the message that they are defending democracy and championing the people against rebel MPs, beastly Europe and the elites.

“The pitch will be: give me the mandate to get the best deal possible, and trust me to deliver no-deal if I can’t.”

The Daily Mirror – no fan of Mr Johnson – carries a leader which calls him a “bust”.

It says: “Given the damage a no-deal Brexit would cause, Labour is right to make sure that outcome is averted before agreeing to an election.

“This is not running scared but putting the interests of the country first.

“The PM’s only concern is his own survival in a job for which he has proved unsuited.”

Meanwhile, the papers also look back to Tuesday’s drama when the whip was withdrawn from 21 Conservative MPs for voting against the Government.

Guto Bebb, former Conservative MP for Aberconwy and now “simply the MP for Aberconwy” writes in the Daily Telegraph: “I supported making time for the Benn Bill because I believe that a no-deal Brexit is bad for the Union, bad for business, bad for our country and, in the long-term, terminal for the Conservative Party.

“I know I have done the right thing on this issue for the good of my country and constituency.

“As for the Conservative Party – why should I care about a party that even its members believe should be sacrificed in pursuit of a no-deal Brexit?”

Elsewhere, former Conservative leader Michael Howard wrote in the Daily Mail that Mr Johnson had “no choice” but to withdraw the whip.

“This is a very sad day both for me and for the Conservative Party, but I believe Boris Johnson had no choice other than to remove the whip from the 21 rebels who voted against him on Tuesday night,” he wrote.

“I say this with a heavy heart, because many of the rebels have been friends of mine for years.

“I don’t think this division is going to lead to two Conservative parties, because the great majority of habitual Tory voters, as well as party members, think the PM’s stance is the right one.”