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How world newspapers reacted to Boris Johnson’s election victory: ‘A rare moment of piercing clarity’

'There has never been a British PM who cared so little for the dignity and morality of his office'

Conrad Duncan
Friday 13 December 2019 11:09 GMT
General election 2019: Boris Johnson arrives at Downing Street

The world awoke to political clarity from the UK for the first time in years after Boris Johnson swept aside opponents to win a comfortable majority in Thursday’s general election.

With 649 of 650 seats declared, the Conservatives have won 364 seats – their best result in decades – as opposition parties generally struggled against a wave of apparent Brexit backlash.

Labour has suffered its worst election result since 1935 and won just 203 seats, forcing Jeremy Corbyn to admit he would soon step down as leader, while the Liberal Democrats failed to gain ground and leader Jo Swinson lost her seat.

The only opposition party who had a successful night was the SNP, who increased their dominance in Scotland and strengthened their case for a second referendum on independence from the UK.

Mr Johnson described the result as a “historic” victory for the Conservatives and said voters had given him a mandate to take the UK out of the EU next month.

Here is how the world’s newspapers reacted to the results…

United States – The New York Times: “Conservatives win commanding majority in UK vote: ‘Brexit will happen’”

“For Mr Johnson, whose brief tenure has been marked by serial defeats in parliament, legal reversals and ceaseless upheaval, [the result] was a resounding vindication. Defying predictions that he would be tossed out of his job, the prime minister is now assured of leading Britain through its most momentous transition since World War II.

“For Britain, which has lurched from crisis to crisis since the 2016 Brexit referendum, its future seemingly shrouded in perpetual uncertainty, the election provided a rare moment of piercing clarity.”

Germany – Die Zeit: “Unscrupulous to power”

Die Zeit’s Bettina Schulz said the UK and EU will be relieved that the “turmoil of a minority government” has ended, but offered a warning about Mr Johnson.

“The unscrupulous methods with which Johnson and his chief adviser Dominic Cummings have won the Tories' election victory are, however, worrying. There has never been a British prime minister who has cared so little for the dignity and morality of his office. No British prime minister ever tried to eliminate the House of Commons as an institution of democracy, lied to the Queen and questioned the authority of the Supreme Court.

“Never has a prime minister so reluctantly refused to give an account to parliamentary committees, the public and the media.”

Spain – El Pais: “Johnson achieves an overwhelming majority and plunges Labour into elections in the UK”

“Boris Johnson bet strongly in pursuing an electoral advance. He presented himself as the popular candidate in front of a parliament that had done everything possible, as he denounced, to cripple Brexit…

“Johnson convinced a majority of voters that he was the politician who could get them out of a maze in which they had been stuck for more than three years”

France – Le Monde: “Johnson masterfully succeeds, Corbyn endures a debacle”

“We like it or we hate it, with its false look, its contempt for details and especially for its slogan ‘Get Brexit done’ – simplistic and repeated ad nauseam throughout the campaign of the UK general election.

"For all that, Boris Johnson has masterfully managed his bet.”

Italy - La Repubblica: “Johnson, from bulldozer to king: the triumph of the leader who speaks to people's hearts”

“As a child he wanted to be the 'king of the world'. The road is still long but this time, according to the exit polls, it seems he has won.

“Despite a dizzying pile of lies, gaffes, insults to blacks, gays, Muslims, workers scattered in his old articles, Boris Johnson has again sprung up.”

Ireland - The Irish Independent: “The UK election may be over but the Brexit battle is not”

“Remainers and Brexiteers had locked their country into a bad-humoured stalemate. The paralysis must be broken, but it will take trust.

“The Tory campaign did nothing to allay suspicions of an elastic relationship with the truth. Even if the best possible scenario Conservatives could hope for comes to pass, the notion that all the loose ends and jagged edges might be tied up and smoothed over with Brussels by 31 January is a fiction.

“The hard part of the Brexit process can really only begin after New Year's Eve, the latest deadline set by the EU to finalise the withdrawal deal.”

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