Tom Goodenough

What the papers say: Is time up for the EU?

What the papers say: Is time up for the EU?
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Something is happening across Europe, says the Sun - but EU leaders are still intent on burying their heads in the sand. Following Matteo Renzi’s defeat in the Italian referendum on Sunday and far-right Eurosceptic candidate Norbert Hofer’s good showing in the Austrian election, it’s clear that ‘voters across Europe are increasingly rejecting the EU’s self-interested ruling consensus,’ the paper says. But while the outcome for the continent does not look good, the signs of instability in Europe can arguably be only a good omen for Theresa May as she looks to negotiate Britain’s Brexit deal. The Sun argues that this instability ‘strengthens Theresa May’s hand’ and suggests that the increasing likelihood that bailouts will be needed to prop up Eurozone banks means the city of London will become important to ‘calm nervous financial markets’ in the Eurozone.

The Times agrees and says it’s vital that Europe ‘finds a new language to stem the populist momentum’. It says that David Cameron and Matteo Renzi’s departure - as well as the imminent exit of Francois Hollande - are not isolated incidents, but evidence that ‘disgruntled voters across Europe’ are snubbing the establishment; the Times argues that voter worries which led to these political oustings can ‘no longer be shrugged off as a passing fad.’ Given how tumultuous 2016 has been, the paper is somewhat understandably wary of making predictions about what will happen over the next 12 months. But one thing is clear, says the Times: ‘Nothing short of a new language of power will stop the gathering momentum of the populists’.

The Daily Telegraph shares in the Sun’s analysis that the turmoil across Europe presents an opportunity for Britain. It says that while many countries on the continent - including France, Italy and Austria - are ‘locked into a highly toxic political confrontation’ between voters and an unwavering political class, things in Britain are looking up. Brexit, the Telegraph argues, allows the UK to ‘embrace a different world view’ - one in which Britain can look beyond the confines of Europe. The paper says that while our European neighbours will remain ‘our friends and allies’, Britain is moving onto better things - and the UK can help its European allies by offering an example of how its possible to thrive outside of the EU, the paper concludes.

Not so, says the Guardian. The paper says that it’s wrong to assume that every crisis across Europe is the same as Brexit. It points out that the defeat of the far-right candidate Norbert Hofer to Alexander van der Bellen - who ran on a pro-Europe ticket - shows the appetite for nationalist outlook isn’t as far spread as some would have us believe. Meanwhile, in Italy, the Guardian says that despite the result in the weekend’s referendum, Italians remain broadly in favour of the EU. Finally, the paper concludes, while there might be trouble brewing in countries across Europe, the events of the last few days cannot ‘be adequately explained in (a) Eurosceptic frame’ - despite ‘British anti-Europeans’ trying to suggest otherwise.