Worlds apart

If you were a foreigner landing at Heathrow yesterday morning, your view of the situation the UK finds itself in could well hinge on which newspaper you picked up at the airport.

By James Evelegh

Worlds apart
Photograph: Michael Beckwith on Unsplash

The country is bitterly divided, across generations, families, parties, and across newspapers too.

Take two of yesterday morning’s papers for example, following Tuesday’s seismic events in the Commons.

The Telegraph is in no doubt that blame lies with a parliament that’s no longer “fit for duty”. It was full of remainer MPs, returned to parliament following Theresa May’s bungled 2017 election.

Johnson does not want an election, but if MPs vote to undermine his negotiating position, what choice does he have?

The paper accuses Labour of being spineless, for demanding an election, but then putting up conditions. Johnson has had to put up with a parliament, with its “imperial speaker”, that is quite happy to abuse process to delay and delay until the clock runs out.

The “remainer war against Brexit” has left him with no option but to call an election, which the Tories need to run as a united party 100% committed to Brexit. It’s an almighty gamble, says the Telegraph, but an inevitable one.

The Guardian, on the other hand, is equally certain that the blame lies elsewhere – with Boris Johnson himself. The PM intuitively understands that hard-Brexit chaos will sustain his premiership.

Tuesday’s vote was the first shot in a battle for the soul of the Conservative party and the PM is adopting the “Trumpian tactic of goading opponents to energise his supporters”. His ploy is to exacerbate grievances so that he can fire up his base in a flag-waving general election.

This is how far the baleful virus of Europhobic populism has spread.

If Britain leaves the EU without a deal, “there will be economic chaos”, the paper says. “That is why he must be stopped”.

Two diametrically opposed accounts, written by intelligent people, about the same event. Heaven help us.