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French press review 16 November 2018

More on British Prime Minister Theresa May and her efforts to cut Europe off without a penny.


"Theresa May's Brexit hanging by a thread," says Le Figaro.

But that won't stop Europe. The conservative daily says the European Commission now has its document and has called an extraordinary meeting for Sunday week to work towards finalising the departure of the United Kingdom.

This weekend the European ambassadors of the 27 remaining EU states are scheduled to meet three times, with a view to reading every word of the British deal before Monday's meeting of the 27 foreign ministers. And that will pave the way for the November summit.

Unless, of course, the bally deal gets blown out of the water in London in the meantime, taking Theresa May with it.

Clownish, irresponsible, pseudo-virile, chauvinist

Left-leaning Libération has the English prime minister assuring anyone who'll listen that "this is the deal the people wanted".

Libé's editorial says the outcome is a clownish pantomime imposed on the British people by a gang of irresponsible nationalists.

The only real lesson from an episode worthy of the comic talents of Groucho Marx, according to the left-leaning daily, is that chauvinism is the worst form of treachery.

Speaking of which, Libération publishes a twitter message posted yesterday by French former minister and presidential candidate Ségolène Royal, in which Royal praises Theresa May's courage, adding that the "spectacle of pseudo-virile oneupmanship by certain males trying to demolish the prime minister for their own political ends is anything but surprising". Nor edifying, she might have added, knowing as she does a thing or two about pseudo-virile oneupmanship.

The end is nigh

"I'll see this through to the end," is the prime ministerial affirmation chosen by Le Monde for its headline, with perhaps a hint of irony since May has been deserted by five members of her government, risks losing the vital support of the 10 Democratic Unionists who ensure her parliamentary majority, and could well see her laboriously negotiated divorce settlement with Europe thrown out by the House of Commons when it comes up for debate next month.

But the end for Theresa May could come sooner than that.

Eurosceptic members of her own Conservative Party, led by Jacob Rees-Mogg, are currently collecting signatures in support of a vote of no-confidence in the prime minister. They accuse her of agreeing to a worse deal than they had feared, and of failing to keep the promises made to the nation. If they get 48 signatures, there'll be a vote in the House of Commons. May would lose her job if 158 of the 315 conservative MPs voted against her.

Le Monde's editorial say the Brexit deal is a no-win situation.

The centrist paper praises  May for her tenacity, observing that a head of government has rarely had to face such a torrent of humiliation, sarcasm and treachery.

She has been helped, insists Le Monde, by the polite patience of her chief European adversary, Michel Barnier, who has managed that diplomatic miracle which involves saying the hard things without raising your voice.

Le Monde does not use the words "Donald" or "Trump" but observes that, in an age when public exchanges between leaders have degenerated to bullying invective, the ability of May and Barnier to smile while their feet smouldered has been a reassuring sight.

The editorial goes on to suggest that Missus May's time on the bonfire may not be over yet.

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