Strong reaction to first days of ‘Tory clown’

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Britain’s incoming Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has been the subject of concerned editorials and heavy criticism in Ireland and Britain.

The Irish Times, in an unusually strong editorial, referred to Johnson’s promotion to PM as “a new nadir” for Britain.

It said the best hope for Ireland, Europe and British citizens themselves is that Johnson as prime minister “will be guided by three of his worst traits, which together have defined his career: he doesn’t mean a word he says, he is obsessed with power and he is willing to betray those closest to him in the pursuit of that power.”

In a single headline, the New York Times summed up that Johnson “is how Britain ends”. After years of cross-Atlantic jibes about Donald Trump, the analysis by journalist James Butler added: “Britain may be about to discover how it feels to be the punch line.”

The Daily Mirror, Britain’s biggest-selling left-wing tabloid, titled its editorial: “Send in the Tory clown.” It said that the new prime minister “inhabits a weird, make-believe fantasy world in which truth is the enemy, struggling to be honest about Brexit or any issue requiring sound judgement”.

The Guardian’s editorial warned that “With Boris Johnson as PM Britain faces a hard Brexit after years of a clown.” Columnist Rafael Behr added: “Ministers who witnessed the new Tory leader in action as foreign secretary testify to laziness, inattention to detail, contempt for relationships, congenital unseriousness and dangerous indiscretion.”

Danish title Politiken warned that Mr Johnson has “built his entire career on shameless lies and extreme self-promotion. Johnson’s victory is the epitome of injustice. It’s an obscene ascent to power,” they said.

“Now we know what it’s like to live in a dictatorship”, said the New European‘s Tim Walker, commenting on the small number of Conservative Party members who were able to select Johnson to run Britain.

The criticism only increased as Johnson named his cabinet, the most right-wing in living memory and burdened by the terrible reputation borne by almost all his new Ministers.

Political writer Cyrus Bales catalogued the failings of the top Tory cabinet members like this:

“Our Home Secretary was previously fired for endangering UK national security through rogue meetings with a foreign power and lying to the Prime Minister about it. Our Foreign Secretary didn’t realize the significance of Dover-Calais on trade. Our Education Secretary is a homophobe who opposes LGBTQ rights.

“Our Chancellor wants to actively crash the economy via no deal. Our Justice Minister has voted against human rights and equality, against same sex marriage, and voted to reduce access to legal aid. Our Environment Secretary supports fracking and has continuously voted against measures to address climate change.”

The Observer’s Will Hutton said the appointments were “the first stage in a right wing coup. Johnson and his charlatans now occupy government, his majority ex UKIP members signing up as Tories”.

Centrist MP Mike Gates described it as an “alt-right government”.

On Thursday, the Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was asked for his reaction to Johnson’s controversial appointment of Priti Patel as Home Secretary. Patel’s idea to withhold food supplies from Ireland to starve the island into submission on Brexit brought her to international notoriety earlier this year.

Varadkar, speaking in Donegal where a cabinet meeting was taking place, pointed out the comments recalled the Great Hunger in the mid 1800s, in which one million Irish people starved to death and other one million emigrated, had been imposed on Ireland by British policy.

The population in places like Donegal had still not recovered from the devastation, he said, adding: “I would hope that with the passage of time she has thought better about those remarks and did not mean them to be said in that way.”

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