The words ‘humiliated’ and ‘crushed’ featured prominently in British newspaper headlines following parliament’s massive rejection of a divorce deal with the EU on Tuesday.
Dailies said May’s grip on power was waning after the huge vote against the agreement struck between May’s government and Brussels, as she prepared to fight a no-confidence motion on Wednesday.
‘May humiliated by 230 votes,’ The Daily Mirror tabloid said.
The Daily Telegraph wrote: ‘Humiliation for prime minister as MPs overwhelmingly reject deal and Labour tables no confidence vote.’
The broadsheet’s parliamentary sketchwriter Michael Deacon said May had somehow defied the odds by making a historic event an anticlimax.
‘Her speech had all the brio of a mouldy gym sock,’ he wrote.
‘She sounded as winningly persuasive as a mother snapping at her children to eat up their cabbage or go to bed hungry.’
The vote itself ‘was as if Agatha Christie has allowed Miss Marple to solve the murder half way through and spend the rest of the novel pottering about in the garden’.
‘Zombie PM’
The Times columnist Matthew Parris said it was time for senior MPs to take over the Brexit process.
‘There exists no leadership in either the government or the opposition capable of taking us through this mess,’ he wrote following the vote.
‘Theresa May isn’t any good; she doesn’t have a fiendish, secret strategy; she’s careless with the truth and will say anything to get her through another week. She doesn’t know what to do.
‘Overwhelmingly, the conclusion to be drawn… is that parliament must wrest control from a zombie prime minister, a zombie cabinet and a zombie opposition.’
The Daily Mail said the defeat left May’s power ‘hanging by a thread’, calling it a ‘devastating result, which threatens to plunge the Brexit process into chaos’.
The Sun, Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper, said: ‘Crushed PM dares MPs to vote for general election after record Brexit defeat.’
‘The crushing defeat – which saw 118 Tories turn against the PM – is the worst since the advent of full democracy and suggests Mrs May will never win enough support for her strategy,’ said the tabloid.
The Financial Times newspaper ran a headline reading: ‘May’s defeat spells trouble for the EU’s Brexit approach.’
‘Huge loss leaves PM in race against time,’ the broadsheet said.