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Brexit in the press

Bitter Brexit battle ends in victory for both sides, according to newspapers

British newspaper headlines hailing the Brexit trade deal between the UK and EU.
British newspaper headlines hailing the Brexit trade deal between the UK and EU. © Reuters
3 min

Given the pathological level of anger expressed by both sides over the past few months of the Battle of Brexit, the most surprising thing now, as the dust settles, is how happy everyone seems to be – at least according to the papers.

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"Britain and Europe salute a good deal on post-Brexit relations" says the front page of Le Monde.

Le Figaro is reduced to calling the deal struck on Thursday "historic" in two separate front page headlines. "Complex" is the other word used by the right-wing daily to describe a deal that involves nearly 2,000 pages of small print.

Libération wonders what British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will do next. He was elected on the simple, single promise to get the UK out of the EU. Job done. Will "Jojo", as the left-leaning French daily calls him, now vanish without trace, leaving others to pick up the pieces? Because pieces there are, in plenty.

Next week the customs barriers will come down on both sides of the English Channel. Trade will become less simple, fishing quotas remain to be agreed, Northern Ireland has been assigned to the Twilight Zone, the Erasmus initiative for European students has been amputated...

A deal is better than no deal, of course. But by the time we get to the end of the massive document detailing this divorce settlement, will we be able to tell the difference?

'Least-worst outcome'

European leaders, from Germany's Merkel and France's Macron, to Ireland's Martin are delighted that disaster has been averted.

"Fair, balanced and just" said EU chief Ursula von der Leyen of the eleventh-hour outcome. Everyone is stressing the need to look to the future, perhaps to ensure that no one peers too closely at the details of the so-called "deal".

Across channel, the mood is slightly more realistic.

"European leaders welcome Brexit deal as least-worst outcome" reads the main headline in The Guardian.

"Deal finally done" says the always sober Times, adding the observation of one UK negotiator that "it was like pulling out eyelashes, one-by-one".

The Daily Express issues a grim warning: "EU doomed: post-Brexit Brussels could become an economic backwater". At least that's clear. We can't say we weren't warned.

 

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