‘Cheers to a great British future!’: Media’s mixed Brexit reaction

From ‘Losers of Brexit’ to ‘A magnificent moment’, here’s what the papers had to say


On Wednesday, British prime minister Theresa May triggered article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, beginning the two-year process of removing the UK from the European Union.

Here is how the news was treated on the front pages of newspapers across the world on Thursday.

The Times

“No turning back” sits atop the front page of the Times, while the lead story takes the angle of Ms May’s bargaining over an EU terror pact: “Theresa May was accused last night of blackmail after she warned that the fight against crime and terrorism would be undermined if the EU refused to strike a Brexit deal with Britain.”

The Daily Mail

One of a handful of papers that opted for a photograph of Nigel Farage drinking a pint, the Daily Mail splash reads: “Cheers to a great British Future!” followed by “. . . but on day one, EU’s already wailing about PM’s ‘Blackmail’ in row over new trade deal”.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

“Losers of Brexit” is the translation of the headline of an editorial on the front of the Frankfurter, which goes on to say: “For the first time, a member leaves the union. The vote of mistrust against the community is not understood as such in the EU. It is as if the British had never properly belonged to it. . .”

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The Sun

Theresa May’s “Brexit threat to the EU” takes the top spot, with the main headline: “Your money or your lives - Trade with us and we’ll help fight terror.” The story says Ms May offered “Britain’s world-beating skill on fighting terror to the EU - so long as we keep free trade.”

The Daily Telegraph

Ms May’s delivery of Britain’s exit notice was “A magnificent moment”, according to the Telegraph. The front page also featured an image of the letter addresses to European Council president Donald Tusk, alongside the caption: “Dear Brussels. it’s over. The letter with which Britain bade farewell to the EU.”

The Daily Star

The Star, even compared to other red-tops, devoted little of its front page to the triggering of article 50. A small blurb in the top-left reads: “EU chief: Miss you already” with a short paragraph, continued on page nine.

El Pais

Spanish paper El Pais leads with the headline: “El brexit arranca con un duro choque entre Londres u la UE,” which means: “Brexit starts with a tough clash between London and the EU.” It later said it was “A colossal project for which there is no precedent,” and that the “time of poetry is over, and now it is the turn of hard prose.”

Le Monde

“Brexit: The leap into the unknown” is the main Brexit headline at the front of France’s Le Monde. The paper later referred to Ms May’s “blackmail” over EU terror co-operation: “This is barefaced blackmail: if you don’t open your single market to our products, the UK will cease police, intelligence and anti-terror cooperation.”

The Guardian

A headline of “EU warns: don’t blackmail us” sits on the front page, alongside a photograph that the paper later described as depicting “a lonely-looking president of the European council, Donald Tusk, gazing at the departing back of Barrow, Britain’s EU ambassador, exiting stage left.”

The New York Times

The front page headline reads: “Pillars of west shaken, not shattered, by Brexit.” The second paragraph of the same story warns of uncertain times ahead: “Two years of grinding divorce negotiations now begin, with the outcome unclear, except that the talks are certain to be contentious and spiteful — and that the only sure winners will be lawyers and trade negotiators.”

Additional reporting: The Guardian