What's New(s)

What's New(s) - A tough week for Boris Johnson - 23/12/2021

What's New(s) - A tough week for Boris Johnson - 23/12/2021

What´s New(s)? La revue de presse anglophone – Erik Ruiz Martín & Nadine Vermeulen

You'll find the script below :

It is not the first time the British Prime Minister made the headlines for controversial statements, but this week was a particularly tough week for Boris Johnson, that ended with the chanting of “stand up if you hate Boris” at a packed world darts championship. 

What did the Prime Minister do to get all eyes set on him this week ?

The perfect storm is descending on Downing Street, just days before Christmas. The Guardian published this week on its front page an image of the Prime Minister at a social event held at his official residence in 2020, after denying the existence of any kind of social gathering weeks ago. Peter Walker and Rowena Mason have been the journalists who have uncovered the story and have dismantled all the excuses of the spokespersons of the executive, who at first assured that it was a work meeting. Something that the journalists have proved wrong by showing how the participants were eating and drinking cheese and wine, the newspaper points out. Sean O'Grady goes one step further and claims in The Independent that Downing Street party photo is “Boris Johnson's two fingers to the electorate”. And the electorate responded. In the elections held in the North Shropshire constituency on December 16 the Conservatives crashed to an election defeat in a district it had represented for more than a century, reports New York Times.

But besides being condemned for not abiding by the rules himself, he also has to deal with a new chapter of the Brexit, isn’t it ? 

Of course, Brexit has become the ghost of Christmas past, present and future in the United Kingdom. The latest chapter in this book has been the resignation of Brexit minister David Frost over his disagreements with Boris Johnson's latest decisions. Le Monde newspaper published an editorial stating that Johnson is caught in his own contradictions. According to the French newspaper, the agreement with the European Union has opened up a long-running conflict not only between Brussels and London, but also in domestic politics. This is confirmed by Heather Steward in The Guardian, she states that the government is "more isolated than ever". Rafa de Miguel assures in El País that this crisis adds even more doubts to the future of Brexit. And he defines the manoeuvre with which the new negotiations will fall on Liz Truss, current foreign minister and a popular conservative politician, as a way to uncork the conflict with Brussels without making it look like a surrender. This offer could be a poisoned chalice for Liz Truss, as defined by Cristina Gallardo in POLITICO. Truss is one of the most likely candidates for Prime Minister.

But then moving on to the country just across the channel, the Netherlands, that did decide to impose a full lockdown just before the holidays. Will the population swallow this pill, considering what happened last time the government imposed new measures ?

Indeed, the fact that the country entered a full lockdown just before Christmas to counter the new Omicron wave was shared by media outlets across Europe. The BBC stated that the rules are the strictest so far to have been announced over Omicron. Meanwhile, the media in bordering countries report on the fear for Dutch ‘border-hoppers’, who try to escape the county’s lockdown measures. “Stay away”, that was the message of public authorities in Belgium and Germany. Not all the Dutch however obeyed to this notice. According to Flemish broadcaster VRT, the Dutch massively crossed the border last weekend to go shopping in other border areas, even if the governor of Antwerp asked the Dutch to stay home and “bite their teeth”. According to Walloon shop keepers interviewed by Le Soir this is just a “fair return” – when Belgium imposed tough restrictions last year, the Belgians went shopping in the Netherlands. 

And what will this mean for the popularity of the upcoming government, already questioned from the beginning ?

Indeed Erik, announcing the new measures will not do any good to the popularity of the governing parties, who finally reached a coalition agreement last week, 273 days after the elections were held. “I can hear the whole of the Netherlands sighing, '' said “Teflon Mark Rutte”, who succeeded to keep his Prime Minister's seat, even after his third cabinet resigned nearly one year ago over a child benefit scandal, wrote The Guardian. BBC’s correspondent Anny Holligan felt that the announcement was being met with disbelief and dismay. Back in November, the Netherlands already made the news across Europe when violent riots over Corona measures broke out in Rotterdam, the Hague and other cities. Over the past year, the authority that Rutte enjoyed as a leader in times of crisis at the start of the pandemic has rapidly crumbled, argued Bas Heijne in Dutch newspaper NRC. He has now become the grumpy headmaster who can no longer keep order, he writes. The upcoming months will tell whether Rutte can regain his popularity in his first months with the new government.

Photo : Flickr Number 10