Berlin – European newspapers were openly mocking British Prime Minister Theresa May after her decision to hold a snap election to strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations dramatically backfired.
France’s centre-left Le Monde predicted “a cruel spring for Theresa May,” with an editorial describing Britain as “weakened” as a result of her Conservatives losing their parliamentary majority.
“All indications are that (the Brexit referendum) was the start of a political nightmare for the kingdom. No surprise there,” the newspaper wrote.
Even France’s conservative Le Figaro newspaper described May as a “big loser.”
“Europe had hoped to see a victor on the banks of the Thames, someone who could manage the divorce with a firm hand – now it is faced with a big loser and a hung parliament,” it wrote.
“One year after clearly choosing to leave the EU, the British have voted for indecision, at the risk of indefinitely postponing a Brexit that had long seemed guaranteed.”
In Germany, newspapers displayed more than a little schadenfreude at the Conservatives’ electoral loss.
“Election blow for Theresa May” was the headline in Bild, Germany’s highest-selling newspaper, with its story adding that the premier had “gambled and lost.”
News magazine Der Spiegel mocked the premier’s concession speech, saying that her comment about stable leadership was a parody of her “monotonously repetitive slogan ‘strong and stable,’ which towards the end (of the campaign) only served to ridicule her.”
“May is no Thatcher,” Italy’s Corriere della Sera wrote in reference to Britain’s longest-serving prime minister of the 20th century, who was often referred to as The Iron Lady.
Its take on the election outcome referred to May’s campaign as “a disaster,” describing it as “cold, querulous, apodictic in its slogans: “Brexit is Brexit”, “enough is enough”. Many Britons had had enough of her and seven years of conservative government.”
Austria’s Die Presse newspaper titled its front page “A slap in the face for Theresa May,” while Switzerland’s Neue Zuercher Zeitung claimed that “Brits don’t know what they want.”
“Prime Minister May’s decision to hold early elections in Britain has turned into a nightmare, not only for May – who may lose her office – but also for the country and for Europe,” Neue Zuercher Zeitung wrote in an editorial.