‘With this prime minister, the next scandal will never be far off’

Your digest of analysis from the British and international press

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson: fit for office?
(Image credit: Leon Neal/Getty Images)

1. Odious Position

Leader comment in The Times

on Lord Geidt’s departure

“One of the stronger reasons for Conservative MPs to vote against Boris Johnson in last week’s confidence vote… was the certainty that with this prime minister, the next scandal will never be far off,” says The Times in a leading article. The resignation of Lord Geidt, the prime minister’s adviser on ethics, “inevitably raises fresh questions about Mr Johnson’s fitness for office”. Lord Geidt’s departure leaves a vacancy that now needs to be “urgently filled if public confidence in the integrity of the government, never more important than at a time of geopolitical and economic crisis, is to be maintained,” argues the paper, but to “recruit a credible figure, the role needs to be put on a statutory footing with the powers that Lord Geidt had requested”.

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2. The right to offend is a vital component of free speech

Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain for the Jewish Chronicle

on free speech

“It is hard to know what was worse,” writes Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain in The Jewish Chronicle, “the intimidating protests outside cinemas showing The Lady of Heaven, about the succession battle after the death of Mohammed”, or the “surrender” of cinema bosses who halted all performances of it. “Free speech is a weapon for reform, enabling us to criticise wrong-doing, expose hypocrisy and shine a light on abuse of power,” he argues. “If we start censoring, how do we decide which faith it is legitimate to criticise and which not?” He notes that when Mormons were upset by the musical, The Book of Mormon, they saw it as an opportunity to publicise their faith, taking out a full page advert in the theatre programme inviting the audience to come to a Mormon meeting themselves and make their own mind up. “What a mature response!” writes the rabbi.

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3. Boris Johnson must not rest until we have taken back control… in full

Leader comment in The Sun

on rights and wrongs

The EU and its “superfan” Tony Blair ensured Britain was “bound hand and foot by the European Convention on Human Rights [ECHR]”, says The Sun. In a leader comment, the paper says the Human Rights Act became a condition of the Northern Ireland peace agreement, Scottish devolution and, years later under the Conservative Party, our Brexit deals with Brussels. “Ditching it would be a seismic event unlikely to get through Parliament,” so Dominic Raab’s Bill of Rights must instead “defang it”, enabling us to ignore ECHR rulings counter to our wishes and interests. “But if even that falls short, Boris Johnson MUST go further,” urges the paper, because “Brexit meant regaining power over our borders and laws”.

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4. Here’s why I’ll never get a pug or a bulldog – and you shouldn’t either

Sean O’Grady for The Independent

on cruel cuteness

Sean O’Grady has been thinking of buying a dog. But even though he thinks pugs and English or French bulldogs are “cute” and “excellent companions”, he will never buy such a breed “because what man has done to these sweet best friends has been unspeakably cruel”. Vets have pointed out that pugs have such short, squashed-up muzzles they sometimes can’t breathe properly and the English Bulldog has a “similar breed-induced ailment”, says The Independent columnist. “There are too many cases where the welfare of the animal has been callously sacrificed, and it’s cruel and unacceptable,” writes O’Grady. He suggests that Kennel Clubs adjust breed standards to make the creatures less of a caricature and more like their “genuinely healthy, working forbears” from centuries past. “Why not just say pugs should have a longer snout? Is that asking too much?”

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5. Blame cyclists for stoking the flames of the road culture war

Rowan Pelling for The Telegraph

on self-appointed sheriffs

Rowan Pelling spends half her life on two wheels, so she’s “mustard-keen on motorists giving bikes safe passage”. But, The Telegraph columnist continues, she loathes “the self-important, bulging-calved, Lycra-clad, road-hogging behaviour of Serious Cyclists”. She writes that “sharing incriminating GoPro footage has become the province of people who once campaigned to be school prefects just so they could report fellow pupils to teachers”. They “don’t confess to cycling the wrong way up a one-way street and making a stressed-out mum perform an emergency stop”, writes Pelling. “The self-appointed sheriffs of Britain’s highways and cycle lanes, with their Twitter feeds full of GoPro footage, are somewhat entertaining,” but she wants to “station these cameras by Vauxhall’s frantic cycle paths to see how much grace cyclists give pedestrians”.

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