European press and commentators switched on the TV, pulled out the popcorn and sat back to watch the latest preposterous episode in Britain’s Brexit psychodrama with a mixture of disbelief and resignation.
“Most series start getting dull after a second or third season, but Brexit’s different,” said Germany’s Die Zeit. “The longer it lasts, the better the plot gets. Yesterday’s twist was the best yet: first the unloved PM offers to go, then MPs seize the initiative and it seems the tide may be turning.
“But wait … In the end, it turns out they can agree on – absolutely nothing. So, cue uproar in the house, and the credits start running. ‘Order,’ roars John Bercow. Please do not adjust your set: we’ll be back right after the break.”
After a day in which Theresa May offered to step down as prime minister if MPs backed her twice-rejected Brexit deal, and parliament failed dismally to agree on any one of eight possible ways forward, the paper’s incredulous front page headline was: “All against all, and all against everything.”
Anyone blaming Britain’s present impasse on May had been proved wrong, the paper said: “Parliament is no smarter than the prime minister: lesson one. Lesson two, the crisis unfolding in Britain goes beyond Brexit. It has engulfed the political institutions and shaken the whole conventional order.”
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wondered despairingly whether “this moment of madness” might soon be behind us, “so that for all those involved, on both sides of the Channel, we can get back to talking about other…