After the chaos, contradictions and incompetence in the management of Brexit in the UK, the European media have noticed a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. In the past, of course, it will soon be extinct, but the end seems – at least for now – to come closer.
"Finally, MPs now have to decide where they are," Die Zeit said in Germany after the Commons voted in favor of a short extension to article 50 Thursday night, having previously refused the Brexit deal by Theresa May and no business. "Empty promises to voters and concise speeches in parliament will no longer cut it. The current drama at Westminster is, finally, the painful intrusion of reality in the British Brexit debate."
The party discipline was gone, the arguments were changing and the majorities were changing, the newspaper said. "The real discussion on Brexit, the one that should have taken place over the past three years, is now underway and must be completed in a few days. It is strong and painful, but it is bringing the necessary clarity."
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung has estimated that the "battered prime minister of the United Kingdom could have more reason than hope than before. Who knows, it could only be that the Brexit drama in London will end soon after all."
The French Liberation welcomed the fact that finally one thing seemed more or less probable: "Great Britain will not leave the EU on March 29." Except that, he added, the country was going through a period "so extraordinarily extraordinary, so totally unprecedented, in which all the existing logic of votes and consolidated political forces was completely reversed, that nothing, nothing at all, can be more expected ".
The strategy of May was at least clear, Libération said: he will call a third vote on his agreement next week, hoping to have convinced the Brexiters at that point that if they could not be satisfied with his Brexit, they would have ended up with a long delay and risk losing "the Holy Grail of their ideal Brexit – even if no one has yet definitively demonstrated that it really exists".
However, Le Monde warned that "the apparent bright spot" masks "a weakening of the authority of May which is alarming not only for its political survival but for the democratic functioning of the country". He had "lost control of his party and its government to the extent that 188 conservative MPs and eight ministers voted against the government's motion to postpone Brexit," the newspaper said.
In Dublin, the Irish Times stated that, after the "chaos and humiliation of a double defeat in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Theresa May had a relatively good day". But the newspaper's commentator, Stephen Collins, was brutal about what the week's events at Westminster had revealed.
The contrast between the behavior of Irish TDs and the "true irresponsibility of a majority of their counterparts in the Commons" was the best way to commemorate a century of Irish democracy, wrote Collins. "The inability of the government and the British opposition to meet at a time of great national danger indicates that something is really rotten in the state of politics in that country … The next few weeks will reveal whether the British political system can act together, but the tests of the last two years are not encouraging ".
Helsingin Sanomat in Finland stated that Brexit is driving "a real British political crisis". Neither the conservative government nor the May Parliament had "a clear picture of where Brexit would end," he said. "Brexit Day was to be in two weeks. Now everything is still open."
In Spain, El País, commentator Rafa de Miguel said that hardcore Brexiters were like "angry children who despise any gift that is not what they want". Having twice rejected the May agreement, the parliament was now completely confused: "Yes to Brexit but nothing to do; No to May's plan but also to any other solution."
In what amounted to a game of Russian roulette, the newspaper said, May had "the double merit of having irritated the Eurosceptics by comparing their savage Brexit with reality, and the rest of the Municipalities showing them that, no matter how brilliant, none of the their alternatives have a majority Two weeks before Brexit, it will be interesting to see if British politicians opt for intelligence or complete collapse. "
In the Netherlands, De Volkskrant stated that preparations for the "third time of the lucky vote" in May are well advanced, although it is not at all clear that it would have won. "Some real Brexiters experts would prefer the government to fall compared to May's," he said. Its Dutch counterpart NRC Handelsblad said that delaying the Brexit "has bought time but remains far from a solution".