Britain’s political crisis over Brexit
The continuing struggle between British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his parliamentary opponents over Brexit dominated political news in US and Canadian papers as well as the British press last week.
“Boris loses control” was how the left-leaning Daily Mirror headlined the UK parliament’s vote to compel the prime minister to seek an extension to the Brexit deadline and not take Britain out of the European Union without a deal.
Daily Mirror – September 4th
The Times headlined Johnson refusing to call for an extension to Brexit and warning parliament he would call an election in October. When this proposal for a general election was voted down by parliament even Canada’s Globe and Mail gave over its front page to the story, under the headline “Johnson loses bid for snap election.”
The Times headlined “No election until Brexit is delayed,” noting the opposition Labour Party’s refusal to agree to a general election unless the prime minister requested an extension to Brexit from the EU. The paper noted Johnson saying he would “rather die in a ditch” than agree to do so.
The Daily Telegraph – September 5th
When Johnson responded by calling for a general election, The Daily Telegraph called its leader Jeremy Corbyn a “hypocrite” for refusing to agree. “In the name of democracy, they would defer an election. Their behaviour is cowardly and hypocritical and the public can see right through it.”
The Sunday Times concluded the Labour feared electoral defeat. “If the far-left leader of the Labour Party were confident of victory, he would not be seeking pretexts to delay. Our poll, showing a 14-point lead for the Conservatives, will give him further reason to pause.”
The Guardian was concerned that the whole Brexit process was diminishing Britain’s international standing. “The Brexiters who dreamed of restoring glory are daily eroding the soft power it (Britain) amassed as its empire shrank. Those who doubted our goodwill and good intentions after the 2016 vote increasingly doubt our good sense too.”
Hurricane Dorian devastates Bahamas
The New York Times – September 4th
The devastation wreaked by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas and its threat to the US mainland dominated the front-pages of the US papers last week.
The Washington Post headlined a “race to rescue survivors in Dorian’s wreckage” as “Dorian pulverizes northern Bahamas.”
The New York Times reported water engulfing 60% of the main island in the Bahamas. USA Today headlined” “Bahamas blasted: jittery Florida awaits.”
The Washington Post linked the strength of recent hurricanes to climate change. “Global warming tends to make hurricanes stronger and wetter, driven by warm waters that have soaked up the excess solar energy humans have trapped with greenhouse gas emissions.”
Hong Kong chief withdraws extradition law
The Wall Street Journal – September 7th
The Wall Street Journal headlined the decision by Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, to withdraw the controversial extradition law. But it reports the move failing to stem the ongoing street protests.
The Times concluded that the move came too late to stop the protesters’ escalating demands. The paper warned that China was poised to crack down on the street demonstrations. “There are signs that Beijing might be prepared to send in the army if things deteriorate or don’t calm down.” The paper urged Britain, as Hong Kong’s former ruling power, to respond. “More must be done to offer sanctuary to Hong Kong dissidents.”
Robert Mugabe remembered
The Financial Times – September 7th
The death of former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe at 95 last week was marked in many papers, with The Financial Times reflecting the ambivalence towards this “liberator-turned-despot.”
The New York Times called Mugabe “Zimbabwe’s founding father and tyrant,” and the Washington Post concluded he “fought to liberate Zimbabwe, then as ruler drove it to ruin.”
The Wall Street Journal’s judgement was severe. “The perverse accomplishment of the dictator … was to make a thriving country impoverished, corrupt and oppressed.”
The Times thought Mugabe was jealous of the adulation enjoyed by his fellow freedom fighter, Nelson Mandela. “He too might have been a great statesman but as his early promise and popularity faded the retention of power at any cost became his overriding goal.”