‘He looks like a man who slept in his car’: What is the Danish media saying about Boris Johnson?

Boris Johnson will be the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom after his victory in the Conservative Party leadership contest was confirmed on Tuesday.

'He looks like a man who slept in his car': What is the Danish media saying about Boris Johnson?
Boris Johnson is likely to become the next British PM. Photo: Niklas Hallen / AFP / Ritzau Scanpix

Johnson had long been the firm favourite to win the Tory leadership race ahead of Jeremy Hunt, and will take over as the head of the UK's government on Wednesday.

He faces an awkward relationship with Europe – and not just because he reportedly called the French “turds” over Brexit.

As Johnson prepares to enter 10 Downing Street, Danish commentators have noted the apparent dead-end British politics finds itself in regarding the EU withdrawal and commented on whether Johnson is capable of resolving it.

The former London mayor has promised to seek a new deal with the EU or leave without an agreement on October 31st, the current scheduled withdrawal date, in what would be a ‘no-deal' Brexit.

But the British parliament has so far refused to countenance that scenario, and has on three occasions rejected a withdrawal deal reached between outgoing PM Theresa May and the EU.

Johnson claims he can land a new deal which can pass parliament, but the EU has consistently said the agreement is final and cannot be reopened for further negotiations.

“The deadlocked situation in parliament means that Johnson could easily be forced to call a new election as soon as next year. He must therefore simultaneously prepare brinkmanship negotiations with (the UK’s) by-far most important trade partner [the EU, ed.], fight a seething opposition inside and outside of his party and also prepare an election campaign,” writes Politiken’s EU correspondent Nilas Heinskou.

“With Boris Johnson at the helm, British politics could, incredibly, become even more unpredictable and chaotic,” Heinskou writes.

Danish public service broadcaster DR, in an article published earlier this month, described Johnson as a politician who “very much splits opinion”.

“The politician with the yellow haystack on his head has made enough gaffes throughout his career for newspapers to make list articles about it,” DR writes.

The broadcaster’s political analyst Kim Bildsøe noted Johnson’s skill with rhetoric in a country deeply split over Brexit.

“When you look at where the British are right now, I think they need someone who can tell that story [about what Brexit is supposed to achieve, ed.]. There are so many other things that seem hopeless and difficult,” Bildsøe said.

As such, he has made Brexit his selling point, despite there being “large holes” in his plan, DR writes.

“Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan has a lot of things, but detail is not one of them,” Bildsøe said.

Conservative daily Berlingske published on Monday evening an article which focused on last week’s reports that a meeting between a Johnson representative and the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier had gone “worse than even the worst of expectations.”

In the article, which also rounds up British reports on the incoming PM’s career and personal life, the newspaper’s foreign correspondent Poul Høi refers to Johnson’s route to the British premiership and his disorganised style.

“What does he want? He has not obtained power with a public mandate, but through an effective background campaign in a desolate Conservative Party; and has won a majority amongst primarily older, white, male party members by promising them the hardest imaginable Brexit,” Høi writes.

“Johnson’s personal style and hard Brexit line has resulted in many experts placing him in a global Trump-Salvini-Orbán-Bolsonaro, axis which shares (the concepts of) post-truth and shamelessness,” Høi writes, paraphrasing and citing Alastair Campbell, the former advisor to Tony Blair.

“He looks like a man who has slept in his car, with his crumpled jacket, messy blonde hair and general disorder, and that’s his style,” Høi also writes.

READ ALSO: Fewer Brits visit Denmark since Brexit vote, reversing previous trend

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UPDATED: Denmark’s government supports Ukraine EU candidacy 

Denmark’s government has said it will support Ukraine’s bid for EU membership after the European Commission deemed the country’s candidacy viable.

UPDATED: Denmark's government supports Ukraine EU candidacy 

Ukraine’s bid to be part of the EU got a majority backing in Danish Parliament on Friday after the European Commission backed the bid.

“It is really, really important that Europe opens the door for Ukraine, so that we can get started to ensure that Ukraine can be ready for EU membership,” foreign affairs spokesperson Michael Aastrup told newswire Ritzau.

Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said on Twitter that Denmark was looking forward to continuing cooperation with Ukraine on reforms.

The possibility for Ukraine to become part of the EU is conditional on Ukraine implementing reforms – on rule of law, oligarchs, human rights and tackling corruption – European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday. She added that “good work has been done.”

Candidacy status is a significant step to joining the EU but the whole process can take years.

“When a candidate’s status is granted, it is not the same as Ukraine being ready to join the EU. There are a large number of criteria to be met and there are a large number of outstanding ones that Ukraine lacks. These are some of the things that are being addressed”, Michael Aastrup said.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen will attend a meeting in Brussels next week where the recommendation from the European Commission will be voted and signed off by the EU’s 27 member states. France, Germany and Italy have also already backed Ukraine’s bid but the decision has to be unanimous.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has said that status as a candidate for EU membership is vital to his country, while the country’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba has said the question could be decisive in the war to defend Ukraine from invasion by Russia.

READ MORE: Number of Ukrainian refugees working in Denmark triples in one month