Frank Langfitt

Frank Langfitt is NPR's London correspondent. He covers the UK and Ireland, as well as stories elsewhere in Europe.

Langfitt arrived in London in June, 2016. A week later, the UK voted for Brexit. He's been busy ever since, covering the political battles over just how the United Kingdom will leave the European Union. Langfitt also frequently appears on the BBC, where he tries to explain American politics, which is not easy.

Previously, Langfitt spent five years as an NPR correspondent covering China. Based in Shanghai, he drove a free taxi around the city for a series on a changing China as seen through the eyes of ordinary people. As part of the series, Langfitt drove passengers back to the countryside for Chinese New Year and served as a wedding chauffeur. He has expanded his reporting into a book, The Shanghai Free Taxi: Journeys with the Hustlers and Rebels of the New China (Public Affairs, Hachette), which is out in June 2019.

While in China, Langfitt also reported on the government's infamous black jails — secret detention centers — as well as his own travails taking China's driver's test, which he failed three times.

Before moving to Shanghai, Langfitt was NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi. He reported from Sudan, covered the civil war in Somalia, and interviewed imprisoned Somali pirates, who insisted they were just misunderstood fishermen. During the Arab Spring, Langfitt covered the uprising and crushing of the reform movement in Bahrain.

Prior to Africa, Langfitt was NPR's labor correspondent based in Washington, DC. He covered the 2008 financial crisis, the bankruptcy of General Motors and Chrysler, and coal mine disasters in West Virginia.

In 2008, Langfitt also covered the Beijing Olympics as a member of NPR's team, which won an Edward R. Murrow Award for sports reporting. Langfitt's print and visual journalism have also been honored by the Overseas Press Association and the White House News Photographers Association.

Before coming to NPR, Langfitt spent five years as a correspondent in Beijing for The Baltimore Sun, covering a swath of Asia from East Timor to the Khyber Pass.

Langfitt spent his early years in journalism stringing for the Philadelphia Inquirer and living in Hazard, Kentucky, where he covered the state's Appalachian coalfields for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Prior to becoming a reporter, Langfitt dug latrines in Mexico and drove a taxi in his hometown of Philadelphia. Langfitt is a graduate of Princeton and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard.

Updated at 6 p.m. ET

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he is ready to call a snap election after lawmakers cleared the way for a vote on Wednesday to prevent the U.K. from leaving the European Union without a withdrawal agreement at the end of October.

The announcement was the culmination of a dramatic day that saw a defection rob Johnson and his ruling Conservative Party of their single-seat majority in Parliament.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

It has been another extraordinary day in British politics...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Chanting) Whose Parliament? Our Parliament. Whose Parliament? Our Parliament.

Frank Langfitt (@franklangfitt) is NPR's international correspondent in London and was previously based in Shanghai, China. His new book is The Shanghai Free Taxi.

Even by the standards of the Brexit era, this has been an extraordinarily turbulent week for the United Kingdom.

Queen Elizabeth II agreed to grant Prime Minister Boris Johnson's request to suspend Parliament, just as legislators are rising to block his threat to crash the country out of the European Union.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Reading online news headlines from the United Kingdom today, you'll see a divide over what Prime Minister Boris Johnson's call to suspend Parliament means.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The United Kingdom is headed for another showdown next month over Brexit, an issue that has paralyzed British politics for several years and ended the careers of the two previous prime ministers.

This year, Parliament thrice defeated a U.K. withdrawal agreement that then-Prime Minister Theresa May's government had negotiated with the European Union. Parliament reconvenes on Sept. 3.

Here are some of the key challenges facing Boris Johnson, the new prime minister, who has vowed to take the U.K. out of the European Union one way or another on Oct. 31.

Britain would face gridlock at ports; shortages of medicine, fuel and food; and a hard border with Ireland if it left the European Union with no deal, according to a leaked government document.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

At a time of polarization and political chaos, the United Kingdom and the United States are about to be led by two remarkably similar figures. On Tuesday, Britain's ruling Conservative Party elected Boris Johnson as their leader by an overwhelming margin, sending him to No. 10 Downing Street. He will take office on Wednesday.

When the Mail on Sunday published private assessments of the White House from the British ambassador to the United States, President Trump expressed outrage.

In a leaked cable, Ambassador Kim Darroch called the White House "inept" and "incompetent" and said the president "radiates insecurity." Trump called Darroch "stupid" and said he wouldn't deal with him.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Boris Johnson is a larger-than-life British politician who likes to project the image of a bumbling, fun-loving man of the people.

His many supporters in Britain's Conservative Party find him charismatic, entertaining and — to their minds — refreshingly politically incorrect.

Many critics, however, see him as unprincipled, offensive and driven wholly by ambition.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Pages