Brexit vote in London: tense wait for the No

Showdown in the House of Commons: the MPs will vote this evening on the Brexit agreement reached between the EU and the British government. With defeat looming, Prime Minister May has warned that if the parliament doesn't pass the deal the result will be either a stop to Brexit or a messy no-deal scenario. Commentators try to make sense of the chaos in Britain.

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Die Presse (AT) /

Triumph of the irrational

For Die Presse the chaos surrounding Brexit reveals the desolate state of politics:

“What is happening here shows how easy it is to turn fears of external influence into the illusion of one's own strength. But only by ignoring everything else: European history, economic forecasts and even the first tangible negative effects on daily life as a result of currency fluctuations and job losses. The desire to arrogantly shape the world to one's liking, regardless of one's own hardships and the resulting loneliness, is actually a weakness that people should shed after puberty. Yet there are popular politicians who now seduce even adults into this - originally hormonal - egocentricity.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

Celebration of democracy turns into binge fest

Volkskrant columnist Bert Wagendorp is equally perplexed by the goings-on in Britain:

“The celebration of democracy has degenerated into a vulgar binge fest with the guests drinking their heads off and beating each other up. It has nothing to do with democracy anymore. Personal and party-political interests have become more important than the question of whether Britain will gain anything from a Brexit. ... The Brexit referendum divided a stable country and turned its politicians into lemmings who plunge from the white cliffs into the sea. All this has made for a fantastic spectacle - but it's also quite tragic.”

El Mundo (ES) /

Europe's paralysis stretched like chewing gum

The hopelessness of the situation won't be made any more bearable by artificially prolonging it, El Mundo comments with resignation:

“If Westminster buries the agreement Europe will be engulfed by uncertainty once more, with endless doubts and no reliable answers as to what happens from tomorrow on. In Brussels they've already put on a bandage before there's a wound, and there's talk of postponing the Brexit for several months even though it's not clear what can be gained from stretching time like chewing gum. The hugely irresponsible act of holding the Brexit referendum has become a dead end which is stopping the British from moving forwards and has left the rest of Europe paralysed.”

Irish Independent (IE) /

Dublin should make key concession

In the event that London and the EU fail to reach an agreement on free trade after Brexit, the "backstop" in the Brexit agreement stipulates that the entire UK would remain in the customs union to prevent a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Dublin should be willing to forego this clause so hated by British EU opponents, The Irish Independent urges:

“If in the coming weeks, the default outcome looms larger, Leo Varadkar will have the biggest call of his political life to make. He took a huge risk in November 2017 by putting the backstop on the negotiating table. If he has to back down to avoid a no-deal outcome and its huge consequences for the people of this country, that is what he should do.”

Financial Times (GB) /

How Brussels can prevent a no-deal Brexit

The EU must rule out a postponement of Brexit, the Financial Times advises:

“UK MPs are currently facing a three-way choice - between deal, no deal, and no Brexit. ... Many Remainers believe there is a good chance of a second referendum. And there are Brexiters who now think they are going to get a no-deal Brexit. ... Mrs May and the EU will only get the deal they have agreed through the Commons if a Brexit reversal is off the table. This may sound counter-intuitive at first. But it is logical in a situation when a majority of MPs are opposed to no-deal. If MPs oppose no-deal, and the EU takes no Brexit off the table, then - voilà - you end up with a deal.”

New Statesman (GB) /

Parliament moves to prevent no-deal Brexit

The New Statesman is happy that the House of Commons is determined to avoid a no-deal Brexit which it believes would be fatal for the country:

“From being a leading member of the EU, a diminished UK will then face the unenviable choice of becoming a satellite state of Donald Trump's 'America First' United States or the repressive and expansionist dictatorship of China. The consequences for citizens, consumers and businesses will be nothing short of catastrophic. ... The No Deal Brexiteers should come clean and stop peddling myths that all will be fine. It will not.”

Corriere del Ticino (CH) /

May's spear has lost its edge

Theresa May's days in power are numbered, columnist Gerardo Morina writes in Corriere del Ticino:

“The closer March 29 - the woeful date of Britain's official exit from the EU - comes, the more chaotic the political situation in London gets. ... The last weapon at May's disposal ('No approval, no deal') has become a blunt spear. ... The last word has not yet been said in this long tug of war between London and Brussels, and between Brexiters and pro-Europeans. Nevertheless the PM seems just a step away from the abyss. And if she falls, it may not be enough to prevent full-scale Brexit chaos.”

Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

No way out

What should come next? Hospodářské noviny asks:

“Barring a miracle before Tuesday, Prime Minister May will have to ask the other EU members to postpone the official exit date. There is the will to find an acceptable solution on the other side of the British Channel. But as events up to now have shown, May negotiated a deal that can't be pushed through at home. People are bound to ask if the same thing won't happen all over again. This leaves two options open: early elections or a second Brexit referendum. But there's no time left to do either before 'B-day' at the end of March.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

At the ready for vote of no confidence

The parliament is increasingly taking control of the preparations for Brexit, comments Gazeta Wyborcza:

“The MPs had already secured the right to propose changes to May's plans. This allows them to dictate to Downing Street which direction it should take: prolong the preparations for Brexit? A hard exit without a deal? A second referendum? ... The days after Tuesday's vote are set to be turbulent given that everything indicates that Labour will file a motion of no confidence in May's government. The party announced this long ago and has waited until it has the best chances of success.”