Brexit a done deal

As 2019 draws to an end, the uncertainty over a key European issue has also dissipated for the time being: on Friday the newly constituted British parliament voted by a clear majority in favour of the UK leaving the EU on 31 January 2020. Will things be easier now that this hurdle has been removed?

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The Sunday Times (GB) /

No longer the laughing stock of Europe

With his clear majority in the House of Commons Boris Johnson can lead Britain into a brave new era, The Sunday Times comments jubilantly:

“As the first Tory prime minister since Margaret Thatcher to be in this position, he has no need of unstable deals with smaller parties. ... Our politics suddenly looks like something to be envied, not mocked. Mr Johnson found a way to channel and contain populism. He reached across the regional and social class divisions with a success that political leaders across the western world must surely envy. ... We approach the end of the year with more optimism about the state of British politics than had seemed likely. That has to be a good thing.”

Jyllands-Posten (DK) /

Good luck with that, Boris...

Jyllands-Posten doubts very much that Johnson will manage to make good on the promises of a rosy future he has made to the British:

“Everyone wants the UK to do well, but Johnson has shown in the past that he has no aversion to building castles in the air. He would have to reach a huge number of bilateral trade agreements, for example with the US and Japan, to compensate for EU membership. Nor is it clear where he's going to get the many billions he needs for his investment programme. But we wish him good luck. If it doesn't work out, things will look very grim indeed.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

One less millstone around the neck

La Repubblica hopes that Britain's departure will give the EU fresh impetus:

“Europe must have the strength to pursue a radical policy of innovation. It must be able to count on there being a joint welfare system capable of helping the weakest and most backward areas. ... In this situation the United Kingdom has always been the country that slowed integration the most. Now that it has left us, is there any hope that a new European awareness will come to be? ... Some signals from the new Commission (and the forces that support it) seem cautious but encouraging. Among other things there's the insistence on a new environmental policy which, if properly financed, could be a driving force for innovation.”

Handelsblatt (DE) /

EU not in a big hurry now

Brussels can now take its time with the negotiations for a new trade agreement with the UK, Handelsblatt explains:

“Johnson said in the House of Commons on Friday that he wanted 'an ambitious free trade agreement with no alignment on EU rules'. He is unlikely to achieve either goal. ... The EU should not let British put it under time pressure. As great as the temptation is to have done with Brexit as soon as possible, Europe should remain tough and when in doubt it should push for an extension of the talks. Over the course of the year it will become clear that Johnson is doing the asking on trade issues - not only in Brussels but also in Washington and Beijing.”