Is there a way out of the Brexit impasse?
All the improvements were in vain: the House of Commons has once again emphatically rejected Prime Minister May's Brexit deal. Now it will vote today, Wednesday, on whether to exit the EU without a deal. If the MPs reject this option they will vote on Thursday on whether London should ask for a postponement of Brexit. Europe's press takes a look at what comes next.
Last chance for a dignified departure
After her second spectacular failure in parliament the PM should see the writing on the wall, columnist Philip Johnston sighs in The Daily Telegraph:
“Tonight's second defeat in the Commons and the virtual certainty of an extension to the UK's membership of the EU should mark the end of the line. Anyone with even a basic level of perception would jack it in if only to engineer a dignified departure of one's own choosing before the firing squad is summoned. … Perhaps, in different times she might have made a good Prime Minister. Doggedness and perseverance are qualities that can always be deployed in the national interest but have in this instance proved to be a handicap.”
Now parliament must take charge
With Theresa May there can be no solution, the Salzburger Nachrichten believes:
“Both Brexit opponents and Eurosceptics are now openly showing their contempt for the prime minister, who has completely lost control. Now the parliament must take the reins with the goal of taking the disastrous scenario of an exit without a deal off the table and postponing the Brexit date. Then MPs from all parties should come together and formulate a new vision for the country's future, form a consensus and seek cross-party majorities for an alternative way of leaving the EU. In the end a considerably softer Brexit will probably be the result. With May in Downing Street that won't happen.”
Corbyn in a bind
Now Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn must take the matter into his own hands, La Repubblica's London correspondent Enrico Franceschini concludes:
“Paradoxically, only Jeremy Corbyn's Labour can restore order in this chaos by convincing the prime minister to accept its plan: namely to remain forever with one foot in Europe, within the European customs union, like Turkey or San Marino - a proposal which the Labour leader immediately reintroduced yesterday evening. But in doing so Corbyn drew the ire of a large number of his supporters. Because what they want is a second referendum to annul Brexit, not a soft Brexit.”
May too weak for new negotiations
An EU summit is planned for next week. NRC Handelsblad wonders whether May has been counting on last-minute concessions the whole time:
“She could be counting on the fact that her only real chance of concessions by the EU will come shortly before Britain is due to depart. So she could be planning on playing the EU leaders off against each other at the last summit. ... The problem, however, is that it seems it's too late for that now. May's latest defeat is so overwhelming that there are no negotiators in Brussels who still believe that concessions could give her a majority in parliament. May is too weak politically for a Brexit with an agreement. That makes any postponement of just a few weeks problematic from the start.”
Time for the EU to put its foot down
The EU must now push for a second referendum against May's will, Evenimentul Zilei argues:
“It must point out that the credibility of its British partner has hit rock bottom, that it hasn't been able to keep its fantasy promises or make the utopia sold in the Brexit campaign a reality. That the British have now understood what Brexit means and seen through all the propaganda they fell for. That the nation should now have the right to vote again on this issue. And that the EU will wait until the end of the year for it to do so.”
Do the British even want to be helped?
The EU should think carefully about what answer it should give to any request to postpone the Brexit, Le Soir advises:
“The British voted solidly in favour of the Brexit in 2016 and now their MPs have for the second time rejected an agreement worked out by their own government. As the Danish prime minister nicely put it, it's hard to hold out your hand to someone with both hands in their pockets. ... You could go on and say: you can reach out a hand to someone who's fallen into the abyss. But if you stretch your hand out too far to save someone who doesn't want to be saved, you risk being dragged down with them. This British farce has gone on long enough. The EU must now decide if it wants to continue letting itself be led along by the nose.”