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24 June 2016

How the European press is responding to Britain’s Brexit vote

From France to Poland, we'll be rounding up Europe's responses to the EU referendum result.

By Stephanie Boland


The laughing stock of the world?

Süddeutsche Zeitung has asked whether Britain has decided to make itself “the laughing stock of the world”:

Britain has just catapulted itself far backwards on the imagined scale of important major nations in the world. It’s strange: this country, which has always known its size and historical relevance, seems to have lost its instincts. Triggered by a simple, internal party power struggle, enriched by ill-founded fears, and fuelled by lies, and populist resentments, the UK has brought together a concert of powers and delivered the following experiment: will I shrink myself into insignificance, will I ruin my economy, will I make myself the laughing stock of the world?

They’ve called it a “historic disaster”.

At least Zeit is comforting, though. Does “die politische Kultur ist kaputt” even need translating…?

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Their emoji header is cute, though.

Obligatory restructuring?

In Spanish, the front page of Le País warns that the British referendum will force a reconstruction of the EU:

Photo: The front page of Le País

Rewriting history

“The British have rewritten history”, writes Dutch outlet NRC.

They have revoked the decision they themselves made when they became a member of the European community in 1973. Their step today will inevitably increase demands for a referendum in other Member States. In this way, the British have changed their country irrevocably. It is clear that many of them shrugged their shoulders at the economic warnings from Prime Minister David Cameron and his ilk. The promise that Brexit would return “power” to the British themselves, and provide a solution for immigration, sounded attractive.

The big question is what course the United Kingdom will choose. Is the channel now a moat and the drawbridge raised? In the pro-Brexit camp is considerable division. Some Eurosceptics are libertarian internationalists who believe that free trade is in the future of a globalized world. But what became clear in recent months is that the voters are demanding that borders be closed. Brexit is for many people a choice for less globalization, less openness and especially less immigration.

Photo: The front page of NRC: “Good morning, Europe. Everybody still there?” (No.)

“The virus of nationalism has escaped”

Spanish news outlet ABC writes:

Brexit, the nightmare of the markets, the cloud of sorrow that has afflicted Europe, the possible wishbone of a populist wave, is already a reality. Between “Little England” and a “strong Great Britain in Europe”, the British have chosen the nationalist option in a country where the giant bureaucratic EU has never been liked, and has looked very undemocratic.

They have also called the Remain campaign “erratic” and Corbyn “spineless”, although they’ve saved the strongest words for Cameron, saying that he has “opened Pandora’s box and the virus of nationalism has escaped”.

Photo: ABC’s front page today: “To be or not to be . . . Europe”

“I can only sigh”

In Poland, the Warsaw Voice is quoting Poland’s foreign minister:

“I can only sigh. It’s really happened. This is bad news for Europe, and especially bad news for Poland. First, it means destabilization in Britain itself at this time”, Waszczykowski said. has echoed his sentiments, writing that a weaker EU referendum also weakens Poland’s negotiating position, and is “the end of an era”, especially for the large number of Poles who have settled in the UK.

Yesterday, their editor asked Britain to stay, saying:

“If a referendum has Britain unsubscribe from the European Union, it will stay as an offended, spoiled child who says: ‘I do not like your sandpit, I’m taking my toys and leaving’”