Will hard Brexit go soggy? Dutch papers react to British hung parliament

Labour supporters campaigning in Amsterdam before the vote. Photo: UKLabourAmsterdam

Britain went to the polls yesterday in a snap election that will apparently result in the Conservatives losing their majority, and no ultimate winner. Days before Britain begins talks with Europe about Brexit, this result has thrown May’s ‘hard Brexit’ into the wind, say Dutch papers.


The Algemene Dagblad says: ‘British voter stubbornly punishes May’s arrogance – Labour calls for her resignation’. The paper adds that Labour ‘surprised friend and foe’ in ‘one of the biggest electoral surprises since World War II’, attributed partly to the turnout of left-leading younger people.

The Netherlands’ most popular tabloid, the Telegraaf, calls it an ‘election fiasco for May’, saying that the Conservative ‘defeat’ will challenge May personally thanks to her ‘not very charismatic’ performance during the campaign and huge crowd of younger voters choosing Labour.

In an analysis piece, it adds that the ‘future of May and of Brexit are under pressure…With the loss of this majority in the House of Commons, her negotiating position is now completely undermined….This means that the British may need to remain part of the European single market. A hard Brexit, which May thought was the “people’s will”, will probably not happen.’

‘Failed gamble’

The Financiele Dagblad says mildly that ‘May hoped to increase her small majority in parliament with early elections. Nothing came of this.’ The Amsterdam stock market has opened higher, it adds, after May’s ‘failed election gamble’.

‘Can May stay for long?’ is the biggest question at the Volkskrant, which has been running a live blog on the results. In an analysis piece, it adds: ‘The position of Theresa May appears to have become untenable after a bad election result’, calling it a ‘totally failed gamble’.

The NRC Handelsblad, also running a live blog, calls May ‘nervous’ and adds that there will be much ‘sorrow’ in Brussels. ‘In 10 days, negotiations on Brexit must begin,’ goes its headline. ‘But will the UK have a new government?’

Mess in Brussels

It adds that May’s decision to try to strengthen her mandate for Brexit with new elections was considered ‘a great surprise’ in Brussels, but that politicians thought that if she had a stronger hand and this lead to smoother negotiations, ‘that was naturally fine’.

‘Now it’s a mess, because May overestimated her popularity. For Brussels, this is a case of déjà vu: May’s predecessor David Cameron thought he knew the British voter but then things went badly wrong with the Brexit referendum,’ the NRC said, adding that ‘delays seem inevitable’ with the Brexit process as a result.

NOS broadcaster, which has also been running a live blog, predicts a coalition government. It also notes that the running joke on Twitter is that the rat-catching Downing Street cat Larry has already left the building.

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