Newspaper headlines: Brexit 'D-Day' provokes strong stances

On the morning of the "momentous" Brexit vote, most papers are not discussing the likely outcome so much as the scale of defeat Theresa May faces in the Commons.

Both the Times and the Daily Telegraph suggest the number could top the 166 recorded against the first Labour government of 1924; the worst defeat in any comparable vote.

Some of the prime minister's allies, quoted in the Financial Times, suggest she could lose by more than 200. The paper says there is a mood of "impending disaster" in Downing Street.

And its calculations are backed up by Guardian analysis.

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The Daily Mail and Daily Express appeal directly to MPs to back the agreement.

"Time to put your country first", is the Mail's headline. The paper says their choice is simple: "Provide the certainty the nation yearns for - or lead us into a dark and hazardous unknown."

The Express tells MPs they set Brexit in motion, agreed to hold a referendum and invoked Article 50. "Don't lose our trust forever," its headline warns.

From the opposite perspective, the Daily Mirror urges Mrs May to "open up your eyes and ears and start looking for a Plan B".

The Guardian says cabinet ministers have not yet been told how she plans to keep the Brexit process on track if her deal is defeated, and remain bitterly divided about the best course of action.

According to the paper, there's growing speculation at Westminster that whichever course she pursues, she will have to announce that she will ask the EU to extend Article 50, delaying the UK's withdrawal.

Out of time?

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"Out of allies, out of time," is the headline on the front page of the Telegraph, above a photo of a grim-faced PM. It quotes cabinet sources suggesting the PM would be expected to stand down if the losing margin topped 100.

The paper gives space on the front page to constitutional expert Vernon Bogdanor, who agrees that a defeat of this magnitude would be "seismic" and kill her deal.

Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee thinks that, whatever the outcome, there is no agreement which can heal Britain's divisions, meaning the Brexit civil war will last a generation.

Rachel Sylvester, in the Times, believes it will be down to MPs to break the impasse with a series of votes to see which options have the most support.

She says those accused of a coup are "simply filling a vacuum of leadership that has emerged at the top of both main parties".

Brussels in the dark?

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The political manoeuvring is being watched closely by the European press.

Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine describes a sense of "helplessness" in Brussels after senior EU figures tried to offer Theresa May extra reassurances about the withdrawal agreement.

Not even the greatest optimists believe this has influenced tonight's outcome, it adds.

For the French newspaper, Liberation, the vote has become a question of survival for the PM. As for Jeremy Corbyn, it wonders how his call for an election will help solve the Brexit issue.

Back in the UK, however, the Sun suggests the PM has been given fresh hope of eventual success in a second Commons vote, after a last-minute offer of help from German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Game, set and match?

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"There goes a champion," is the Mail's back-page headline, beside a picture of Andy Murray leaving court after his epic first round defeat in the Australian Open.

The paper's tennis correspondent, Mike Dickson, says despite the painful hip injury which is set to end Murray's playing days, his bloody-minded brilliance almost saw him pull off a great comeback.

Matthew Syed writing in the Times thinks the five-setter was a metaphor for the Scotsman's extraordinary career, adding that his refusal to go do down without a fight meant he "didn't just last the match; he turned it into a classic".

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