Finally, we have a date: March 29th will see Theresa May trigger Article 50 and set the Brexit train in motion. After all the hype, what can we expect? The Sun says it hopes that the European Parliament will handle things better than its ‘muppet of a President’. Jean-Claude Juncker, who the paper says is a man who sees his bottle as ‘completely empty’ rather than half-full, has surpassed himself with his latest ‘belligerent Brexit outburst’, according to the paper. Juncker, who suggested that Britain’s Brexit punishment will put other countries off from jumping ship, clearly thinks he can use ‘fear’ to ‘whip millions of disenchanted voters across Europe into line’, says the Sun. It’s obvious, the paper says, that Juncker is so blinded by the supposed ‘sanctity’ of the EU that he can’t see ‘how sinister his threats are’. So when Article 50 is triggered, will the negotiations become more sensible? If Juncker’s latest comments are anything to go on, concludes the Sun, we won’t be holding our breath.
Forget sunlit Brexit uplands, when Theresa May pulls the trigger next week we’re heading into an ‘unknown future’, says the Guardian. But whatever the challenges ahead, one thing is clear: the Prime Minister’s grip on power remains firm. Even after a bungled Budget, the PM has succeeded in ‘recovering authority’ quickly, the paper says. While her lead in yesterday’s ICM poll – which put the Tories 19 points ahead of Labour – spells out the lack of credible opposition to the Government. The Guardian finds some rare words of praise for Theresa May’s decision not to capitalise on her popularity and call a snap election: ‘There is something rather admirable about a prime minister rejecting this kind of easy opportunism,’ the paper says. But we shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that May’s motives are completely altruistic. After all, the Guardian says, by dodging an early vote, May can maintain her ‘absolute discretion over the nature of the Brexit outcome’. And it also ‘leaves unchallenged her claim’ that the referendum outcome last year gives her a mandate to deliver Brexit.
‘At last’, says the Daily Mail: ‘we can put the date in our diaries’. When Theresa May kick starts Brexit, we’ll be on the path to a ‘great future’, the paper claims, saying that we can leave behind the ‘shackles of the sclerotic Brussels bureaucracy’. Of course, things might be tough over the coming years of negotiations, the paper accepts. But with the economy ‘still buoyant’ we’re heading into the Brexit talks in a ‘position of strength’. What’s more, May’s ‘upbeat approach’ ‘is setting just the right tone’ in contrast to that ‘deluded Eurocrat Jean-Claude Juncker’.
But should we really be so optimistic about Brexit? The Daily Telegraph suggests that the BBC, for one, would be better off ditching the doom and gloom and spending longer talking up Britain’s opportunities. The paper says that Britain is one of the ’most harmonious and diverse nation in the developed world’, with good employment levels and a healthy economy. Yet if you judged the state of the nation from watching the BBC you’d be hard pressed to believe it, suggests the Telegraph. Instead, the ‘national broadcaster’ paints a vision of a ‘nation in crisis, racked by doubt and division’ and rather than looking on the bright side about Brexit, ‘the Corporation inevitably presents Brexit as a problem’. Whether we like it or not, ‘the BBC’s worldview helps shape Britain’s idea of itself’ says the Telegraph, which is why the dozens of Tory MPs who have written a letter criticising the BBC’s Brexit coverage are right: the BBC’s ’slanted Brexit coverage…could easily have real and negative consequences’. ‘Britain deserves better,’ the Telegraph concludes.