UK Politics

Europe papers fear deeper crisis as Brexit secretary quits

Combination photo of the online editions of EU newspapers
Image caption European press saw resignation as the sign of Britain's political crisis

The resignation of Brexit Secretary David Davis from the UK government on 9 July has prompted major French, German and Austrian newspapers to speculate about a deep political crisis, which may even bring down Theresa May's government.

France: 'Theatrical move'

"The snub could not be more forceful," centre-left Le Monde said.

"Two days after announcing triumphantly that she had managed to unite her government on the 'soft Brexit' while keeping close relations with the EU, Theresa May is disowned by the minister in charge of defending this position in Brussels," the newspaper added. It noted that Mrs May may face a no-confidence motion in parliament in the next few days.

According to Le Monde, Davis's move raises concerns of a resignation of "another heavyweight" in May's government - Boris Johnson.

For centre-right Le Figaro, Davis's resignation "sets off a political crisis with high risks". It recalled that Theresa May recently secured the cabinet's backing for her Brexit plan. According to the daily, Davis gave May 48 hours "to savour her apparent victory over the rebels" and then "defected in a theatrical move".

"David Davis swallowed quite a few bitter pills. This was the one that meant it's too much," Le Figaro said.

"The consequences of choosing a 'soft Brexit' by London were not long in coming," the business daily Les Echos said.

The left-wing newspaper Liberation said the resignation of Davis "confirms the feeling that die-hard Brexiteers have lost".

Germany: Pressure is mounting

The popular German tabloid Bild said that "hardliner" Davis could not accept the UK remaining part of the customs union and single market. "Davis's resignation is seen as a setback for May's proposal for a 'true Brexit'," Bild said.

The left-wing daily Die Tageszeitung called the resignation a "major blow" to May, who is likely to face "further resistance from the Brexit-wing of her party". The departure of Davis "plunges the government into a new crisis at a wrong time", the paper added.

The centre-right daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said that "pressure is mounting" on Mrs May from her own party. It stressed that it will be "very difficult" for the prime minister to get support for her plans without Davis.

The daily Die Welt suggested that the resignation shows "how Britons are split on Brexit".

"May's government is facing a threat of collapse - possibly with the help of Boris Johnson. The EU exit is a toxic project whose poison has been seeping into society for two years," the paper said, noting that the Brexit effect "goes well beyond Britain's borders".

"In the week when the English national [football] team can write a new wonderful story, English politicians are writing their own new chapter," Die Welt said, adding that there will be no winners in the Brexit game.

Austria: 'Kingdom in chaos'

Commenting on Davis's decision, the liberal daily Der Standart said: "Two days after British Prime Minister Theresa May swung into a more conciliatory EU exit route, one of the most prominent 'Brexiteers' in her cabinet reportedly resigned."

"His resignation leaves the already hopelessly divided political landscape in the kingdom in chaos," the paper noted.

The centre-right daily Die Presse said Davis's resignation is a "hard blow" to May. "She now has to reckon with further resistance from the Brexit wing of her party," it added.

"If more members of the government resign, this could bring serious distress for May. Even a fall of the prime minister seems no longer impossible," the paper said.

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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