European newspapers and broadcasters have reacted with surprise to the scale, if not the fact, of UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s Commons defeat on her Brexit deal.
‘A new dynamic’
In France, the centre-left daily Le Monde calls the defeat “more stinging than the most alarming prediction”, and wonders whether Mrs May can “survive politically, as cosmetic operations will not be enough to change MPs’ minds”.
“This launches a new dynamic. Anything is now possible in both the British political scene and the future of Brexit”
The centre-right Figaro says the “most important defeat in the history of British parliamentary democracy has plunged the country a little deeper into chaos” – a point also made by the left-wing daily Liberation.
Le Figaro turns its attention to opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, saying the best way for him to avoid a second Brexit referendum would be to “start talks with Theresa May on reaching a compromise”.
“This seems improbable, but in times of crisis nothing is off the table,” the paper says.
Liberation remarks that the “unprecedented scale of May’s defeat would have resulted in her immediate resignation in normal circumstances, but since the Brexit referendum more than two and a half years ago Britain… no longer lives in normal circumstances”.
“Chaos” and “disorder” are the keywords in German coverage of the vote, from the populist Bild tabloid to the Handelsblatt business daily.
Munich’s centre-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung says Britain “has become rather ungovernable”. It sees Mrs May taking her “brutal defeat stoically”, but wonders where she intends to go with Brexit.
The centre-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung is also reduced to musing that “it will be interesting to see what happens next”.
The centre-right Die Welt sees little immediate prospect of a stable response in Downing Street. In answer to the question “quo vadis Britannia?” (“Where are you marching, Britain?”) it thinks Mrs May will be “counting on pragmatism from Brussels”.
There is some sympathy for Theresa May’s predicament.
Vienna’s centre-right Die Presse praised her “unperturbed and well prepared” response to defeat, adding that “no one could blame her for not fighting to the last second… for her political survival”.
But other commentators are far less forgiving.
Begona Arce in Spain’s El Periodico says Mrs May “achieved the impossible, by managing to unite the Conservatives with the opposition against the Brexit plan. It is a colossal failure after almost two years of negotiations”.
Sebastian Borger in Austria’s centre-left Der Standard agrees that Mrs May’s “bitter defeat was well deserved” as she had “put party interests before the country”.
“When the difficult situation in Ireland in particular should have made her soften her plans, she still tried to ingratiate herself with the enemies of the EU in her own party, but to no avail,” he says.
‘Time almost up’
Theresa May should not count on concessions from the European Union, according to Italy’s La Stampa, which leads on Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warning that “time is almost up”.
The paper adds that Brussels is “also preparing for a no-deal Brexit by approving 14 temporary measures”.