‘Johnson in peril’: what the papers say after former PM questioned over Partygate

Boris Johnson’s three-and-a-half hours of evidence before the privileges committee dominates the UK front pages on Thursday, with the former prime minister described as “agile”, “defiant” and “rattled”.

The Guardian leads with “‘Flimsy’ Partygate answers leave Johnson on the brink”. The paper’s political editor says he faces being “formally reprimanded for recklessly misleading parliament”.

The Times has “Johnson fights for his future,” reporting “the committee has to decide whether Johnson misled MPs. If they decide that he did so intentionally or recklessly, they may find him in contempt of parliament”.

The paper adds that a suspension of “ten days or more would make a by-election … almost inevitable”.

“Johnson in peril after angry clashes with inquiry”, is the assessment in the i. Reporting on the hearing, the paper says “Former prime minister loses his cool and shouts ‘complete nonsense’ at MPs questioning him”.

The Telegraph splashes with: “Johnson besieged but defiant”. The paper says that he “hinted he could refuse to accept the inquiry’s verdict”.

However, analysis elsewhere on the front page could spell trouble for the former prime minister, with the paper’s associate editor writing, “The cults of Boris and Brexit are simultaneously imploding”.

The Mail chooses to lead its front page with a comment piece from Sarah Vine: “Harman’s face was thunder. Boris was as agile as a cat. Pure box office but, after four nit-picking hours, had a single mind been changed?”

The columnist focuses on the entertainment value of the hearing, describing Johnson as, “the Captain Jack Sparrow of British politics”.

The Express focuses on the moment that Johnson swore his oath at the start of the hearing, with the headline, “Boris: hand on heart I did not lie to house”.

The Metro has “Boris: the backlash”, reporting that “rattled Johnson gets grilled by MPs for hours”.

Scotland’s Daily Record is more forthright in its analysis. Under the banner, “Ex-PM’s lame lockdown party excuses”, the paper leads with the headline, “Ol’ blue lies is back”.

Finally, the Mirror says Johnson has been accused of “insulting Covid families with a string of Partygate excuses”, under the headline: “Just drinks after a difficult day? Plenty of people were having difficult days, Boris”.