‘Will Rishi Sunak jump, or will he be pushed?’

Your digest of analysis from the British and international press

Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson
(Image credit: Leon Neal/WPA Pool/Getty Images)

1. Boris is deluded if he thinks firing Sunak can save him from oblivion

Allister Heath in The Telegraph

on chancellors and scapegoats

“Will Rishi Sunak jump, or will he be pushed?” asks Allister Heath in The Telegraph. Boris Johnson’s allies have reportedly “urged him” to appoint Jeremy Hunt as chancellor, while some of Sunak’s supporters “believe that, even at this late date, he would be better off leaping from a sinking ship”. But “such drastic action wouldn’t be enough to save the career of either man”. The prime minister may fire the chancellor “in a shameless attempt to pin the taxes and looming recession entirely” on Sunak, but “such a cynical ploy wouldn’t by itself rescue the PM”, writes Heath. “Virtually every decision” Johnson has taken since 2019 “has conspired to undermine” the “historic achievement” of delivering “a clean Brexit”. Britain faces “major, historic challenges” that require “bold and imaginative solutions” – sacking Sunak “won’t answer these epic questions, as even Boris Johnson must surely realise”.

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2. The infuriating reason why Fox News won’t broadcast the January 6 hearings live

Noah Berlatsky in The Independent

on channel choices

There is “an expected dynamic to political scandals”, writes Noah Berlatsky in the Independent. “Politician does bad thing, politician tries to cover it up, news media tries to expose the story” is how it used to go. But “thanks to the increasing dominance of hyper-partisan right-wing media”, they often now take a “different trajectory”. Now, “when conservative politicians do something horrible, Fox News” and other “like-minded imitators don’t try to expose the truth. They rush to cover it up.” Most networks are providing live, continuous coverage of the 6 January insurrection hearings “because it is a major, important news event”. But Fox News “is taking a different route”, instead broadcasting them on Fox Business, a much smaller channel than its flagship. “This is hardly the first time Fox has tried to mislead its viewers about the insurrection,” says Berlatsky. “Fox barely pretends to engage in journalism” and now “it is attempting to keep evidence of Republican complicity in the insurrection from its viewers”.

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3. Isn’t it frightening that a lone woman seeing a policeman now feels afraid, not reassured?

Zoe Williams in The Guardian

on rising fear

The Metropolitan Police is pressing its case against six people who attended the vigil for Sarah Everard in March last year. “At every turn, the force’s behaviour has been the exact opposite of what it should have been,” writes Zoe Williams in The Guardian. Any killing by the police “changes policing for ever, and changes the experience of being a police officer”. It is “impossible to overstate how damaging it is that a woman on her own, seeing a policeman, would be more likely to feel afraid than reassured”. Williams thinks that “the Met’s approach was too often similar to that of the Vatican when allegations of sex offences were first made against priests: circle the wagons, protect the insiders, wait for it to pass”. If a women’s citizen army were to spontaneously mass, “the Met needs to hear it… How can you show that you’re listening if you won’t acknowledge people's anger?”

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4. China’s smart cities have gone from utopia to dystopia

Frédéric Lemaître in Le Monde

on padlocking down

“Is it a coincidence” that Shanghai was named “the world’s smartest city” in February just as it became “the world’s largest prison”? writes Frédéric Lemaître in Le Monde, with 25 million people “strictly confined to their homes”. It may be “too early to draw up a balance sheet of this great – probably unprecedented – lockdown”, but the toll “has been much more dramatic than authorities have claimed”. The “illusion of a ‘dynamic’ management of zero Covid” has, says the French paper’s Beijing correspondent, “failed miserably”. At the end of March “Shanghai authorities were reduced to the most ancient of solutions: forcing the population to stay at home by putting good old padlocks on the doors of their residences”. In attempting to curb the spread of the virus, “China’s smart cities have been moving from utopia to dystopia”.

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5. Is the #MeToo movement dying?

Spencer Bokat-Lindell in The New York Times

on limited potential?

“If there is a standard metric by which the progress of the #MeToo movement has been measured, it is the conviction of high-profile men accused by women and girls of sex crimes,” writes Spencer Bokat-Lindell in The New York Times. It’s “small wonder, then” that the legal battle between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard “has been read as a low-water mark for the movement”. Even before the verdict last week, “commentators were declaring ‘the death’ and ‘the end’ of #MeToo”. Some say the movement “hasn’t actually done much to curtail sexual harassment and abuse”, and social media conversation around the trial “could indicate that the court of public opinion is also becoming less friendly to accusers”. But “Was #MeToo’s potential limited from the start?” Some have pointed to the movement’s “overreliance on punishment” to produce “social change for all women, not just the most well-off ones like many a Hollywood actress”, as a significant “flaw”.

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