Tom Goodenough

What the papers say: Brexit ‘lift off’

What the papers say: Brexit 'lift off'
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The period of ‘phoney Brexit’ is over, says the Daily Telegraph in its editorial this morning. After MPs overwhelming backed the Government on the triggering of Article 50 in last night's historic vote, one thing is now clear: ‘there is no way back’. It’s obvious, the Telegraph says, that whatever happens next, the process is not going to be easy. Sir Ivan Rogers told a Commons committee yesterday that the Brexit negotiations will be the biggest undertaken since the Second World War - and possibly the biggest ever; he’s right, says the Telegraph. But as well as being correct on the scale of the task ahead, the former UK ambassador to the EU was wrong to offer up flashes of a ‘jaundiced prognosis’, in saying that talks will inevitably descend into ‘name-calling’. Instead, it would be good if ‘Sir Ivan and people like him could use their extensive contacts to ensure the best possible outcome for the country, rather than lamenting the baleful ramifications of a referendum that is not going to be rerun,’ the paper concludes.

The Guardian agrees with the scale of the task ahead. Brexit is going to be ‘long and hard’, the paper says. Yet there’s little trace of optimism in its verdict on the way things are being handled by the Government. It says that while many are saying the Labour revolt against Jeremy Corbyn is the main talking point from last night’s debate, we’re missing out on the ‘real scandal’: ‘the Tory party’s many remainers’ who ‘bent the knee’ despite Theresa May having done little to reassure Parliament about the way in which Brexit preparations are being carried out. But for all the gloom, the Guardian says all is not lost; it’s time for Theresa May to finally ‘come clean’ and ‘convey to the whole of Britain the scale of the task ahead’ in the white paper due to be published today. It’s no good for the Prime Minister to try and pretend that Brexit is a process which can be done and dusted within a few years, the Guardian says. Instead, it’s obvious 'this will be a long game, and the government must say so’.

For the Daily Mail, yesterday’s Commons vote at 7.30pm marked an historic moment. In one piece of Parliamentary theatre, the ‘Commons swept away the last serious obstacle to freeing Britain from the chains that have bound us to an unelected, unaccountable Brussels for 45 years’. There were, of course, some who did themselves a disservice, the Mail says. Take the Labour MPs who voted to Remain despite representing ‘solidly Brexiteer constituencies’: 'they deserve everything coming to them at the next election,’ the Mail argues. And yet leaving aside the ‘we-know-best minority’ - including the 'monstrous hypocrisy of Nick Clegg' - ‘last night was a triumph for democracy’. ‘Everything is set for a bright future’, the paper concludes: Theresa May is ‘four square’ behind Brexit, the U.S. - and others - are ‘eager’ for trade deals and ‘countless Remainers (are) switching sides, as they survey the EU’s decline’. ‘At last, we’re on our way out, and up. We have lift-off,’ the paper says.

We’ve made it past the first of the Brexit votes, says the Sun - and ‘so far, so good’. It’s vital, though, that the Government guards against those within the Labour party - as well as Tory rebels - who might try to ‘hobble’ the PM in her negotiations. Instead, we should listen to the PM when she says that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’. The worry is, says the Sun, that any amendments forced through by the Commons on today’s Brexit white paper could force May to ‘give ground endlessly to an EU playing hardball’. If the PM ends up like her predecessor David Cameron - who Brussels could see was clearly ‘compromised’ because his heart wasn’t in it - then we could be in trouble, the Sun says.