Theresa May had hoped her Conservative conference speech would not only paper over the cracks within her own party but also strengthen her Brexit negotiating position ahead of a crucial EU summit later this month. In around two weeks, EU leaders will gather in Brussels to decide whether to commence trade negotiations with the UK. The key player in this decision, as always, will be Germany. However, it would seem that Theresa May’s conference speech has done little to convince the Germans of her political nous. Here’s how the German press reacted to Theresa May’s conference speech:
The country’s largest broadsheet, Süddeutsche Zeitung, says Theresa May’s keynote speech should have been an ‘act of liberation’. However, according to the newspaper, her gaffe-filled address turned her into a ‘metaphor of her own weakness’. Süddeutsche Zeitung notes that even ‘disloyal Cabinet members’ applauded generously in order to give their leader time to recover. The paper suggests that May’s revelation that her government is preparing for a no-deal Brexit shows she ‘suspects she has lost’ her career-defining struggle with the European Union.
The centre-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung draws contrast between this year’s conference speech and that of a year ago. Theresa May once embodied the ‘self-confidence of a proud and courageous party’ but is now the manifestation of the Conservative party’s misery, the paper says. Under the headline, ‘British dreams and Brexit realities’, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung turns its attention to Brexit and proposes that the outcome of the negotiations will be determined by both the unity of the British government and whether it is ‘guided by reason and not by daydreams’. However, this may be a tall order. As the paper quips, May is a leader who has now ‘lost her political voice’.
The leading pro-business newspaper, Handelsblatt, describes the scene in the conference hall as a ‘fatal picture’. Despite expressing sympathy with May’s unfortunate situation, the paper suggests that yesterday’s performance will become the ‘symbol of a wounded prime minister’.
‘What a nightmare!’, says popular tabloid, Bild. In what was likely the most important speech of her career, May ‘radiated anything but security and authority’, the paper says.