Papers call for decorum from Tory contenders – and for Johnson to show himself
The race for number 10 is officially under way.
Britain’s national newspapers have given their verdicts after some of the candidates in the Tory leadership contest officially launched their campaigns for the top job.
The Times offers a lukewarm response to all the contenders who have so far kicked off their bids, declaring that none of them “has what it takes”.
Stressing that the country is in desperate need of “great leadership”, the paper remains unconvinced by the credentials of Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove, Dominic Raab, Esther McVey or Matt Hancock.
“Five more candidates have still to launch their campaigns,” it writes. “The field remains open for that elusive leader.”
The Daily Mail suggests front-runner Boris Johnson is “the one to beat” – but warns he could be in for a rough ride following Monday’s opening exchanges from his rivals.
And it criticises the former foreign secretary for adopting a “bunker mentality” and not fighting back against his critics.
“Even though he’s the favourite, he can’t just sit back and hope to win by default,” the paper’s leader warns.
“He must explain in detail how he would achieve an honourable Brexit, solve the Irish backstop conundrum and, if necessary, drive a no-deal outcome through a Remainer-dominated Parliament.”
He cannot do that “hiding behind the sofa”, the paper says, adding: “This paper, our readers, and the party are waiting, Boris. Show us what you’ve got!”
The Sun, meanwhile, delivers a scathing assessment of Mr Johnson’s plan to raise the 40% tax threshold from £50,000 to £80,000.
Branding the proposal a “stinker”, the paper questions why his tax cut focuses on higher earners.
“Tax cuts should ideally be across the board. Failing that, the lowest-paid must be first to benefit,” it says in its leader.
“…how does focusing on higher earners look politically? ‘Old Etonian toff Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson comes to power and immediately gives the rich a tax break.’
“He’s writing Corbyn’s script for him.”
Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph warns against an acrimonious leadership race – instead calling for the contest to be conducted with “decorum”.
It criticises Mr Gove for the taunts he directed at Mr Johnson during his campaign launch, and warns the country “will not appreciate watching alleged colleagues knock lumps out of one another”.
“It is all well and good the candidates saying they want to unite the country; if they cannot show propriety in their own relations, what possible chance is there of that?,” it asks.
“These are indeed serious times. They must be treated as such.”