The front pages of British newspapers offer starkly contrasting shades of gray in their treatment of the Partygate scandal report and its implications for Boris Johnson’s tenure at 10 Downing Street.
“Drinking, fights, vomiting: it’s all part of a day’s work, says the Prime Minister, “this is how the Guardian sums up the Prime Minister’s attempt to scare the publication of Sue Gray’s report which concluded that the ‘senior management’ of No 10 should take responsibility for alcohol culture.
According to sketch writer John Crace, after 30 seconds of remorse in the Commons, Johnson quickly returned to type with “the classic narcissist’s non-apology. A torrent of self-pity. A man more guilty than sinner. A good man cast adrift in a world he barely understood”.
the shimmer focuses on how, while the nation was in lockdown and mourning their loved ones alone, the Prime Minister and his team were “laughing at us all”.
Metro takes the comment from a senior aide to Boris Johnson as the title. “Red wine on the walls of n°10, vomiting, fights, but… ‘We got away with it'”.
the FT says “Johnson insubordinate as Gray lays bare lurid details of No. 10 parties” and believes a Tory coup is now “unlikely”.
the I picks up the theme of Gray’s conclusion: “’The failure of leadership’”.
It’s a whole different picture if you look at some of the Conservatives’ supporting documents, though.
the To post adopts an indignant tone with a title asking: “Is that it?”. It is placed under a long subtitle going back to its main slogan: “For months, the Prime Minister’s enemies have been salivating at the idea of Sue Gray skewering him. Yet after the innocuous photos in his report of him with juice and M&S sandwiches, even they must be wondering…”
There is also no possibility of confusing To express for one of Johnson’s enemies because it makes the Prime Minister’s conduct easier. “Really… is that what it’s all about?” is his front-page headline over a photo of him toasting his staff.
For the Telegraph, the Gray report is not the main story of the day because he prefers to lead with “Sunak to extend energy bill relief”. However, it reports that “Johnson denies cover-up of Abba’s party at Downing Street flat”, and also carries an unlikely match to an inside story of TV presenter Patrick Kielty reading “Wild late at night at the pub by Sue Gray”.
the Time also places the cost of living story first and Gray second. Its headline is “Gray Report Vindicates Me on No. 10 Parties, Claims Johnson”.
the Sun, meanwhile, combines the two in what he calls a “message to Prime Minister Boris”. “The (gate) party is over…help our readers through the cost of living crisis now.”
But if pro-Johnson newspapers are hoping their champion is finally out of the woods, the treatment of the story by the non-London press might be sobering.
the Echo of the North, which serves many constituencies that turned Conservative in 2019, has a hard-hitting front page in which there is a picture of Johnson superimposed with the words of Labor MP for Middlesbrough Andy McDonald as the headline: ‘Blood on your filthy privileged hands’ ”. The newspaper says 66 per cent of its readers want Johnson out of No 10 amid anger at how “countless lives in the North East were lost while the Prime Minister partied”.
the Yorkshire Post is not so bloody but still overwhelming for a government that has many seats in the region. “Failures of leadership and judgment,” he says under a photo of a sad-looking Johnson.
In Scotland the Record says “Enough conservative party to make you sick”.