Deal or no deal? Whatever type of Brexit Britain ends up with, the government should take the prospect of walking away with nothing seriously, says the Daily Telegraph. Yet the postponement of the EU withdrawal bill, which may not now come before Parliament for several weeks because of a looming Tory rebellion, does not bode well. The Telegraph stops short of echoing the warning of Labour’s Keir Starmer that the delay sums up the “paralysed” state of the current administration. But there remains ‘a palpable sense…of a catastrophe in the making’. With the Brexit stalemate unlikely to be broken this week, a Brexit no deal could end up as the ‘default’ option – making ‘proper preparations’ vital, says the Telegraph. This makes it even more vital that the withdrawal bill isn’t pushed back any further.
Theresa May needs to be ‘blunt’ when she addresses EU leaders in Brussels tonight, says the Sun. The paper says ‘the time for niceties is over’, and now – given the PM’s assurances to EU citizens living in Britain that they won’t be kicked our after Brexit – it’s time for other leaders, such as Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron, to be ‘equally forthcoming’. Whatever others say about the justification for the current Brexit hold-up, the Sun has a simple verdict of the reason: the EU just ‘wants more dosh’. But Britain can only table an actual bid when it knows ‘what’s in it for us’, says the paper. So it’s high time for Merkel to ‘show us the deal you are drafting — and hurry up’.
Jean-Claude Juncker’s warning in the run-up to the referendum that Brexit “would not just be a catastrophe for Britain, but a disaster for Europe as a whole”, should ring in the ears of EU leaders when they meet in Brussels tonight, says the FT. More than a year on from the vote, ‘the government has still to decide…what Brexit ultimately means for the economy’. What’s more, the Cabinet, the Tories, Labour, Parliament – even the UK as a whole – ‘remains deeply divided on the country’s future’. The paper concedes that the EU has been ‘inflexible’ at times. Yet ‘the British have made it easier for them’, says the FT, and a ‘squabbling UK cabinet contrasts with the unity among the EU27’. Despite the suggestions that Brexit would tear the EU apart, the union seems to be enjoying a ‘spirit’ of shared ‘solidarity’ over Brexit, says the FT. This might be based on wishful thinking on the part of the EU, with the FT warning Brussels that it should remember ‘Brexit would tear a hole in the EU budget’ and also ‘poison relations’ in the event of a no deal outcome. But the onus is, nonetheless, on Britain not to take the ‘petulant and reckless’ step of walking away. ‘Mrs May must hold her nerve,’ says the FT – and the PM needs to remember that ’the national interest lies in a Brexit on sensible terms’, whatever some in her party might think.