Tom Goodenough

What the papers say: Article 50 debate, Brexit ‘fog’ and ‘looney Labourites’

What the papers say: Article 50 debate, Brexit 'fog' and 'looney Labourites'
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After MPs voted last night to back the Government’s plan to invoke Article 50 by the end of March, the Guardian says it’s good news that Parliament is now finally using its powers to shape the Brexit process. The paper says it’s ‘extraordinary’ that so much time has passed since the referendum, given how there is still no ‘real clarity about the government’s general aims’ in upcoming negotiations. It says yesterday, however, ‘some fog began to lift’: ‘At last, the great issue of the UK’s future relations with Europe was finally being discussed where it matters most of all, in our elected parliament,’ the paper says. But despite the merits of having a debate, the Guardian says yesterday’s vote isn’t enough. It’s better than nothing, the paper concludes, but it’s still ‘not ideal’ - and Labour arguably let itself down by not pressing the Government to publish a white paper on Brexit next month. Yet for all the drama in the Commons yesterday, it’s worth remembering, the paper adds, that the ‘battles, and the casualties, will come in the new year’.

But the Daily Mail disagrees. In its editorial, it says that yesterday's ‘resounding 372 Commons majority’ ‘must surely put the matter beyond doubt’. The paper piles pressure on the Supreme Court not to rule that the matter of Article 50 should be bounced back to Parliament - a decision, it says, which would mean giving ‘die-hard Bremoaner MPs and unelected peers a chance to sabotage a policy backed by 17.4million voters’. And for those who doubt some MPs willingness to block Brexit, the paper suggests there of those in Parliament up for attempting to do just that. It attacks the 89 MPs who voted against the Government yesterday, describing their ‘appalling arrogance' in dismissing 'the public's verdict’. The Mail is typically damning in its criticism of these group of MPs: asking those who sided that way, ‘how they (can) look the electorate in the eye after delivering such an insult to democracy’.

The Daily Telegraph also attacks those MPs who showed ‘contempt for referendum voters by voting against the Government’s amendment yesterday. The paper says that those who did so ‘must answer to the electorate’. But whatever happened yesterday, now is the time to get behind Brexit, the paper urges. It says that Labour’s purpose is to ‘hold the Government to account and to question its intentions’. But it says that the party's role is not to ‘make the task of securing a good deal for Britain even harder’. The Telegraph concludes by saying that MPs must, at least for now, trust the Government on Brexit. After all, ‘Why would ministers be seeking anything other than the best possible outcome for the country?’.

The Sun joins in the criticism of those who sided against the Government, dubbing those who ‘lined up to halt Brexit’ a ‘collection of Lib Dem nonentities, looney Labourites and meddling SNPs’ who ‘defy the public’s clear wish’ to leave the EU. It calls on readers to ‘show these remainers the contempt they deserve’.