'Chaotic uncertainty': How the world reported Britain's Brexit mayhem

May faces 'rebellion that has been brewing for months within her own party', WSJ tells readers

Jon Sharman
Saturday 17 November 2018 01:15
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What do New Yorkers think of Brexit?

Cabinet resignations and rumours of a looming no-confidence vote over Theresa May’s draft Brexit deal have thrust British politics into the headlines around the world, with newspapers from the Washington Post to Russia’s Kommersant marvelling on what was “one of the most tumultuous days in recent British politics”.

“May clings to her Brexit deal as support withers”, the Post proclaimed in its headline. The paper, owned by the world’s richest man, Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, raised the spectre of Britain crashing out of the European Union without a deal and suffering “chaotic uncertainty”.

The New York Times, with a characteristic reversed headline, went with: “At Brexit Crunch Time, Leader Takes a Bruising”. Ms May’s “sales pitch of her life” – the promise of an orderly withdrawal – was “not supposed to be a laugh line”, it reported.

Its piece continued much in that vein with a round-up of that morning’s unfavourable UK headlines and then a run-down of the subsequent ministerial resignations. The prime minister suffered “one withering blast after another” while defending her plan in the commons, it added.

The Wall Street Journal dedicated one full above-the-fold column to Brexit, saying the Conservative revolt had thrown Britain into “turmoil”. Sterling fell sharply following the resignations of Esther McVey, Dominic Raab and others, it said, adding that “the coming days will be critical for both Ms May’s Brexit deal and her premiership as she seeks to quell a rebellion that has been brewing for months within her own party”.

In Australia the Herald Sun featured a “BREXIT CHAOS” promotional sidebar teasing expanded coverage of ministers’ desertions on page two. The Australian went with “Brexit knives out for May”, describing the government as “in turmoil” in a downpage item that continued inside.

Russian business broadsheet Kommersant said the Brexit deal had “sparked an unprecedented scandal in London that could lead to the resignation of Prime Minister”. It said a group of influential conservatives suggested a vote of no confidence in the prime minister, but she was “determined to lead the country out of the EU at all costs”.

The English-speaking Argentina Star described the resignation of Brexit secretary Dominic Raab as a “bombshell” that shook the Government. Argentina’s centre-right daily La Nacion said the “wave of resignations for Brexit left May and her plan on the edge of the abyss”.

Newspapers on the Continent also speculated on Ms May’s vulnerability. German paper Der Spiegel called her “the thrashed prime minister”, while French daily Le Figaro reported: “The Brexit of Theresa May hangs by a thread.”

La Repubblica in Italy said the “real test” on the Brexit deal would come when the vote went before Parliament. It would take a “miracle” for the prime minister to get the support of the House of Commons, it said, adding: “Conservative party sources claim that the Eurosceptic ministers today have only barked and not bitten because they are sure that the premier will crash into Parliament.”

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