Tory Conference: showdown between Johnson and May

An exchange of blows between Prime Minister Theresa May and former foreign secretary Boris Johnson is expected to take place at the British Conservative Party conference. Johnson, who recently dismissed May's Brexit plans as preposterous, has said he would postpone the country's exit from the EU by six months. Will the Tories be able to reach an agreement on Brexit?

Open/close all quotes
Zeit Online (DE) /

No chance for reformers in the Tory Party

The Tory Party is being hamstrung by its own leaders, Zeit Online writes:

“The party is dominated by a prime minister who is overwhelmed by Brexit and has no time to contemplate serious reforms. By [former foreign secretary] Boris Johnson, who plays at being Winston Churchill but has no answers to the challenges facing the country. And by [May's rival] Jacob Rees-Mogg, who has 80 hard-core Brexiters behind him but who already suffered his first defeat when he was expected to present a Brexit plan that avoided a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. The hardliners are sidelining anyone who could reform the party.”

The Guardian (GB) /

Johnson losing his party's support

Theresa May's biggest rival in the Tory Party has lost much of his appeal in recent months, The Guardian writes:

“[Boris Johnson] will get enormous coverage [during his speech today at the party conference] - as much because he is a media darling as because he is a threat to Mrs May. Beware of taking Mr Johnson as seriously as he takes himself. His ambition, his private life and his slap-happy journalistic style increasingly count against him. The Tory party does not love him as it did. Ministers attack him more openly, as Philip Hammond did on Monday. There have been ambitious politicians who have craved the highest jobs in politics before - but none on so weak a record.”

France Inter (FR) /

UK all at sea over Brexit

The Tories aren't the only ones at a loss over Brexit, sighs Pierre Haski in his column on the website of radio station France Inter:

“Without a doubt, Shakespeare would not have chosen Theresa May and Boris Johnson as the heroes of one of his dramas. But he would certainly have been inspired by what is now at stake on the other side of the Channel - which is nothing less than the future of the United Kingdom. ... Should this veritable 'war' not lead to a solution, the voters will have to decide. ... That would be tantamount to political suicide for the Tories, as they could be supplanted by Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party. ... Labour too, however, lacks a clear line on the Brexit. Two years after the referendum, the country still doesn't quite know what to do with the Yes vote.”

El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

A heroine, a victim, or both

The conference will decide May's future, El Periódico de Catalunya observes:

“In Birmingham the curtains have opened on a performance with Theresa May as the main protagonist. The ending is still open: the Tory leader may emerge as a heroine or as a victim. Or both at the same time. In any case the annual Conservative Party Conference that began on Sunday will decide the future of the prime minister and of a government born with major weaknesses and which has made many mistakes, but always had Brexit as virtually the only topic on an agenda in which it has had so little leeway to do what a government is actually supposed to do: govern.”

Die Tageszeitung taz (DE) /

In the end everyone will back May

The taz doesn't believe Johnson could pose a serious threat to May:

“No doubt the party conference is too early for that to be the case. Because new power struggles are the last thing the country needs right now if it wants to find a clear course. Surprisingly, since the Labour Party conference support for the Labour opposition has fallen to its lowest level since the 2017 elections, meaning that unity can help the Conservatives more than conflict at present. No doubt for that reason the bigwigs in the Tory Party will all stand by May. That said, they'll probably be so close on her heels that she herself won't know where she stands.”