May survives but problems persist: Papers react to hectic day at Westminster

A dramatic day in Westminster has given Thursday’s newspapers plenty to talk about as Prime Minister Theresa May survived a vote of no confidence.

But views on Mrs May’s Brexit plan, the future of the party and Mrs May’s position within it are subject of fierce discussion and debate among the nationals.

The Times runs with the headline “May scrapes home” after the vote went 200 votes for Mrs May and 117 against, but added that her critics “remained unbowed”.

Inside the paper, Conservative peer Lord Finkelstein questions whether the hectic day has actually changed anything.

He writes: “Almost every problem Theresa May had yesterday she still has today. She still has to win support for the withdrawal agreement despite overwhelming opposition.

“She still has to pass a bill to ratify the agreement. And she still has to keep her government in office despite the threat that the Democratic Unionist Party will withdraw its support if the deal is agreed.”

He adds Mrs May should focus on making sure her deal is the only thing left on the table and concludes: “Meanwhile we are 24 hours closer to leaving the EU, without being any wiser about how.”

The Daily Telegraph contains a front-page column from Mrs May’s former chief of staff Nick Timothy in which he says her deal is “as dead as a dodo”, while Mansfield MP Ben Bradley said the country needed a prime minister who “had not just determination, but who is pointing that determination in the right direction”.

Mr Bradley, who resigned as vice chair of the party over the Chequers Agreement, adds: “I have never doubted Theresa May’s steel and determination, but I do doubt her understanding of what the Brexit vote means.

“You cannot seek to deliver on a vote for change if all you aim to do is replicate the status quo.

“Yes, we want a relationship with Europe, but it has to be a different one… I honestly don’t think it’s complicated, but this Government has made it complicated.”

The Daily Mirror’s Kevin Maguire says Mrs May “lives to die another day”, saying it was the “hollowest of victories”, while the Daily Mail and Daily Express both urge the party to let Mrs May get on with her job.

Peter Oborne in the Daily Mail calls the rebels “silly fools” who have “blown themselves up”, writing: “Mrs May is not the greatest prime minister in British history, not by a long shot.

“But she’s incredibly fortunate in her opponents – both on the Opposition benches and in her own party.

“But she now looks stateswomanlike indeed thanks to the half-baked challenge launched by colleagues such as Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg.”

The Sun’s leader column attempts to sum up the problems facing Mrs May, saying she is caught “between the devil and the DUP”.

It says “much of Britain is in disarray” – pointing to rail services, police, hospitals and the military as problem areas – but warns: “Every single Tory needs to remember one thing: if you don’t get your act together, we’ll end up with Corbyn.”

The Irish Examiner writes Mrs May is “not going anywhere… for now” pointing out the “struggle to sell the Brexit deal remains”.

In continental Europe, Mrs May also makes the fronts with Le Soir in Belgium running the headline “May saved, her Brexit still under threat” and De Standaard refers to the vote result as a “pyrrhic victory” for the Conservative leader.

The front page of De Standaard (Screenshot)

Politiken in Denmark talks of “drama” in Mrs May’s future, while Het Belang Van Limburg, a Dutch regional paper in Belgium, says “Survival artist May does it again”.