PM dominates front pages as party problems persist and Covid rules return

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Boris Johnson appears on the front page of every national newspaper on Thursday, most of which depicts a chief under pressure due to his handling of developments over allegations of rule-breaking Downing Street Christmas party.

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The 57-year-old also comes in for criticism for unveiling new strict pandemic measures.

The Daily Mail and The Sun highlight a clear double standard on the new restrictions, with the former using the headline “A rule for them, new rules for the rest of us” and the latter mocking Mr. instructed the public. “Do as I say.. not as I do for Christmas”.


Mail columnist Sarah Wines questioned whether Allegra Stratton, who resigned on Wednesday, has been held higher on account than former Downing St. employee Dominic Cummings or other associates.

“Where is Ed Oldfield, the man who threw him this question, in all this? Why is it only a woman who carries a can for men’s mistakes?” Ms. Wines asks.

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The Sun’s editorial lists several government embarrassments, including Mr Cummings’ vision-testing visit to Barnard Castle and the complicated part of the Foreign Office evacuation to Kabul.

“In the minds of the public, this is madness and equates to the failure of leadership by the PM which cannot and should not continue,” it writes.

Both deny that there was a party and say that neither party violated the rules, failing logic and justification.

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The Daily Telegraph’s splash covers the “immediate response” to the “irrational” new restrictions, while columnist Aleister Heath says the situation could still be salvaged if Mr Johnson acts quickly.

“It is a frightening situation: the country cannot be left without a rudder,” writes Mr. Heath.

“It’s not too late for Johnson: several prime ministers have returned in a shambles. But for the first time, their grip on power is beginning to loosen and their lawmakers are openly discussing Johnson’s future.

“It needs to act decisively to stop the rot and rebuild No. 10 before the country gets into a painful COVID crisis again.”

The PM is quoted in The Times as denying a suggestion by Tory MP William Rag that he had projected the new restrictions as a political “twist”.

The newspaper’s main piece focused on Mr Johnson failing to use “common sense” with the shifting narrative provided to the press about the alleged illegal revelation.

“Both deny that there was a party and say that neither party violated the rules, failing the logic and justification,” the editorial said.

“The prime minister used to say that he can guarantee that this Christmas will be better than the last. It is unlikely that anyone in Downing Street is feeling festive at the moment, and neither should they,” it added.

The PM has a soft spot for landing in front of the Daily Express where he offers to make Plan B the best chance for “closer to normal” Christmas.

But it’s a different story inside the paper, where columnist Leo McKinstry writes: “What is far greater than any previous uproar that temporarily surrounded Johnson is the depth of public outrage.

“Decent, law-abiding Britons who followed guidelines, avoided social gatherings and avoided visiting loved ones, are furious at the open hypocrisy at the heart of the government.”

Mr McKinstry said Plan B would serve as a useful distraction for Mr Johnson “but events this week will make it harder for him to persuade the nation to accept the new controls”.

Jason Beatty, head of politics at the Daily Mirror, which last December ranked the story of alleged illegal parties at number 10, said the results of the recent by-elections would not give Mr Johnson much confidence in the future.

“The common theme behind all these scandals is Johnson’s arrogant belief that he is above the rules,” writes Mr. Beatty.

“While the Tories were comfortably ahead in the election, he was able to get away with it.

“But the recent by-polls show that voters are turning against the conservatives.

“It may be too early to write an obituary on Johnson – but this week may have sown the seeds of his demise.”


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