UK Politics

What the world's media made of Boris Johnson's exit

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The resignation of Boris Johnson as foreign secretary means that Theresa May's days as prime minister are numbered, according to many pundits around the world.

The Chinese media has a different take and hopes Mr Johnson's successor Jeremy Hunt will become China's "son-in-law" because his wife was born there.

'Boil lanced'

Image copyright Le Figaro

France's conservative Le Figaro sees Theresa May "destabilised by the pro-Brexit rebellion", in particular by the "sensational" departure of Boris Johnson. "It smashes the hard-won Brexit compromise plan to pieces," writes London correspondent Florentin Collomp. "The knives are out in the alleys of Westminster, where the summer promises to be hot" for the prime minister, he warns.

Philippe Bernard of the centre-left Le Monde is not so sure whether Mr Johnson's resignation means "the beginning of the end for Theresa May... or the beginning of the end of her worries".

Image copyright Le Monde

He says that after two years of "futile skirmishes on Brexit, the boil has finally been lanced" by Mrs May's shift towards keeping close ties with the EU.

'May's final'

German commentators can't help drawing World Cup parallels, none more blatant that centre-left Spiegel Online's comparison of the prime minister to England manager Gareth Southgate.

Image copyright Spiegel Online

"They both want to win game after game, but the difference is that while Southgate has yet to get through the semi-finals, May's final game has already begun," writes correspondent Joerg Schindler.

He expects hardline Tory Brexiteer MPs to see Boris Johnson's resignation as a "signal to revolt" against the prime minister's leadership.

"It will be no consolation if Britain wins another penalty shoot-out, as EU statutes do not provide for extra time over Brexit," Spiegel concludes.

In Berlin's liberal Der Tagesspiegel, Albrecht Meier also predicts a "revolt in Westminster" after Boris Johnson's resignation, adding that "the prime minister must fear for her job".

As for the EU negotiators in Brussels, they have "no choice but to wait for the outcome of the political drama in London. There will not be much time left for the negotiations in Brussels... as both sides are still far from the final goal," he writes.

Dominic Johnson, the foreign editor of the left-wing Tageszeitung, says the breach between Mrs May and the two departing ministers is "not just about Brexit, but also about loyalty, cabinet discipline, and work ethic".

He dubs Boris Johnson a "scatterbrain ever since he took office two years ago, while David Davis has had only four hours of talks with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier this year, and has played no active role since March".

'Walking a tightrope'

Spanish papers focus on the probable delays to the talks in Brussels,

Barcelona's La Vanguardia sees Mrs May "walking a tightrope" in the "worst crisis of her government".

"Brussels is still waiting for the umpteenth British proposal, while time and patience are running out," it warns.

Image copyright El Mundo

The EU correspondent of centre-right El Mundo says Boris Johnson's departure is no great loss to diplomacy.

"A chatterbox with exaggerated ambitions that drove nearly the world mad," writes Pablo R. Suanzes, who notes that the foreign secretary chose to quit "in the week when a British citizen died of nerve-agent poisoning, and a couple of days ahead of an important Nato summit and the Trump visit".

"David Davis was almost irrelevant, but Johnson was a time bomb," he concludes.

Image copyright De Volkskrant

The Dutch centre-left daily De Volkskrant has little comfort for the prime minister, saying the "chaos in the British cabinet is complete".

Its correspondent Patrick van IJsendoorn says the "Brexiteers' dying dream threatens to turn into a nightmare for Theresa May".

In the eurosceptic press camp, Hungary's Magyar Idok harks back to the joke in the 1980s BBC comedy Yes Minister that Britain only joined the EU in order to thwart Franco-German co-operation, adding that this has "come back to haunt Europe".

Its editorial says "the British are right to object to the increased central power of Brussels", but warns that "some kind of free trade agreement and access to the single market will, in spite of visceral objections, be unavoidable."

'Lame duck'

Mikhail Ozerov, the London correspondent of the pro-Kremlin tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda wonders "who the US president is going to talk to when he arrives in the next few days?"

Image copyright Komsomolskaya Pravda

The "infamous, unpredictable, even scandalous" Boris Johnson has gone, and this leaves Mrs May a "lame duck", he declares.

As for the "more positive foreign policy towards Russia" that several commentators hope for, Mr Ozerov deems this "highly unlikely, alas, given the current line-up on the British Mount Olympus".

Russia's government daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta reserves judgement on whether Moscow can now expect an easier ride from Britain, but agrees that Mrs May "barely holds sway, and has lost control over her cabinet"

Image copyright Rossiyskaya Gazeta

Pundit Elena Ananyeva warns the RBC business daily that the resignations do not mean that Theresa May can continue her "tilt toward a soft Brexit", as she still has to face a "good many supporters of the hard option" in her cabinet and parliamentary party.

'On the brink'

Boris Johnson's resignation is big news in the Iranian media, and the consensus across the political spectrum is that it spells trouble for Theresa May.

The official Channel 1 TV news says it has "put the British government on the brink of collapse".

The pro-reform newspaper Ebtekar says the two resignations "have deepened divisions" in the cabinet, and the Donya-e Eqtesad financial daily describes a "resignation tsunami."

'Chinese son-in-law'

China's state media generally note that the resignations come at a time when, as the Xinhua news agency says, "time is running out" for Brexit negotiations.

But some reports are more interested in what new Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt's China-born wife Lucia Guo could mean for relations.

Image copyright Guancha

Jeremy Hunt is a "Chinese son-in law", declares the Global Times daily, while the Guancha news site is proud to announce that the "Chinese son-in-law has come to the rescue".

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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