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‘Brexit blame game’: What the papers say on PM’s extension request

The Brexit latest continues to make headlines.

Prime Minister Theresa May (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Prime Minister Theresa May (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Theresa May’s request for an extension to Brexit – and her blaming of MPs for not helping her implement the referendum result – makes headlines in Thursday’s papers.

The Prime Minister made a direct appeal to the public on Wednesday evening, telling the UK that she was “on their side”.

She has written to European Council president Donald Tusk formally requesting an extension of Brexit until June 30 ahead of travelling to Brussels for more discussions.

The word “blame” features on a number of the fronts, with the i referring to the “Brexit blame game”, while the Guardian carries the headline “May: don’t blame me for Brexit crisis, blame MPs”.

The paper says Mrs May is facing a “furious backlash” after her statement in Downing Street, with MPs suggesting she should step down.

Comments from the Prime Minister also lead the Times, with the paper suggesting Mrs May is trying to turn voters’ anger at MPs.

Inside the paper, political sketch writer Quentin Letts draws a parallel between Mrs May’s speech and Brenda from Bristol who was catapulted into public consciousness when she reacted to the 2017 snap election by saying “Not another one!”

The leader column, headlined “National Humiliation”, concludes the only way for Tories to secure Brexit is to back the PM’s deal.

It is time for the opposition to stop chasing phantoms

It said: “In reality, the choice facing MPs is no choice at all.

“There is little to like about Mrs May’s deal, which even if grudgingly passed will not resolve the national trauma but will merely set the stage for further battles.

“But a no-deal crash-out in eight days’ time for which the country is manifestly ill prepared would destroy what little faith remains in our political system. It is time for the opposition to stop chasing phantoms.”

The Daily Mirror says Mrs May is the victim of “deluded defiance”, accusing her of blaming everyone except herself, while the Sun portrays the PM as Wolfie Smith, the Robert Lindsay character from sitcom Citizen Smith, next to the headline “Power to the people”.

The paper’s leader column strikes a similar tone to the one in the Times, suggesting Mrs May’s deal was the only one on the table.

“The Sun will not pretend her deal is great. It is just the only one available,” the paper says.

“It gets Brexit done, as promised. And it does have merit for Leavers, whatever Tory backbenchers protest.

“Defeat it again and the Government could fall in a no-confidence vote.”

The Prime Minister is often accused of kicking the can down the road, but she is not alone: that is all MPs can agree to do

Nick Timothy, former joint chief of staff in 10 Downing Street, writes in the Daily Telegraph that there “wasn’t a better deal on the table”.

He says: “Ever since Gina Miller defeated the Government in the Supreme Court, insisting that Parliament must legislate to invoke Article 50, and through the sorry saga of Grieve amendments, meaningful votes, and Cooper, Boles and Benn amendments, MPs could have taken control with each Brexit vote.

“They could have voted for the PM’s deal, but they rejected it, twice. They could have voted for no deal, but they rejected that, twice. They could have voted for a second referendum, but they refused. They could have voted for a softer Brexit, meaning a customs union, a Norway-style relationship, or a combination of the two. But they refused to do that too.

“The Prime Minister is often accused of kicking the can down the road, but she is not alone: that is all MPs can agree to do.”

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