Thursday, June 13, 2024

Brexit: What the world’s papers say – BBC News

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Britain’s vote to leave the European Union has caused widespread dismay in the European media and beyond. Many commentators see the future of the entire EU at risk from further Eurosceptic challenges.

‘Earthquake in Europe’

The websites of French newspapers have been running live pages and posting extensive comment.

The weekly new magazine Le Point has no doubt that the UK decision is “causing an earthquake in Europe”.

Le Monde‘s live page is typical of those in the European countries, reporting the sharp reaction on currency markets, reassuring comments by European leaders, and calls by French and Dutch Eurosceptic leaders Marine Le Pen and Geerd Wilders for similar referendums in their countries.

“Brexit wins, the markets fall” is Le Monde’s overall live-page headline

Image caption, France’s Depeche: “What Europe will we have tomorrow?”

One of the many online commentaries by Le Monde writers pins the Brexit victory firmly on the “focus on immigration”, and fears that this could “exacerbate the divisions in a country already marked by a widening wealth gap”.

The live page of Le Figaro is headlined “the result is irreversible”, and a commentary sums up the recent decades of the UK-EU relationship in the words of the Serge Gainsbourg song – “je t’aime… moi non plus” (“I love you… me neither”).

Image caption, Le Figaro: The “I love you… me neither” of Britain towards Europe

The paper’s special correspondent in Scotland, Adrien Jaulmes, is one of many European reporters to suggest that “Scotland could soon decide to choose between two unions that have become incompatible” and opt for another independence referendum.

Its commentary sees a “divided United Kingdom beginning the rest of its history, and this will be made outside the European Union”.

As for the future of Europe itself, the paper hosts a debate between French liberal MEP Sylvie Goulard and former European Greens leader Daniel Cohn-Bendit on the need for a “new frontier”.

‘Little England beats Great Britain’

Dubbing the Brexit win a “victory for mistrust”, the paper says the EU must now accept that the “process of deepening integration is reversible, and may try to make the separation process so difficult that no other country will try it”.

Image source, Berliner Zeitung

Image caption, “What now for Europe?”

Der Tagesspiegel says a “chain reaction” of countries wanting to leave the EU might follow as a “worst-case scenario”, but does not doubt the “serious consequences of Brexit for Europe”.

The Italian papers focus on market turmoil and speculation about the future of Prime Minister David Cameron.

La Stampa looks at “24 hours in which the world has changed”, and highlights concerns of expatriates in Britain and abroad who fear they may have to return to their respective home countries.

Il Corriere della Sera‘s Aldo Cazzullo regrets the departure of Britain, which he dubs the “software” of the West, the source of the ideas, music, legends, characters, and the culture that gives flavour to our lives”.

Image source, Corriere della Sera

Image caption, “Challenge at the last vote”

The paper’s London correspondent, Beppe Servergnini, concludes that “Little England beats Great Britain”.

Spanish papers also think the EU must take seriously warnings of discontent with its institutions.

El Pais says the referendum “requires reconstruction of the EU”, as the “London alarm signal” highlights the “accumulation of threats to the Union”.

La Razon agrees that the referendum “obliges Brussels to redefine a common project that is now in crisis”.

‘Brexit epidemic’

Central and south-eastern EU members also worry that the vote will encourage populists who want to undermine the EU.

The Czech media, perhaps conscious of the break-up of Czechoslovakia, pay considerable attention to suggestions that Scotland and Northern Ireland might want to leave the United Kingdom. Czech state TV and private Nova TV both report on this.

The Romanian TV channel Digi24 predicts that Brexit has “opened Pandora’s Box” by fuelling the “arguments of nationalists who want a domino effect” of moves across the continent to leave the EU.

Evenimentul Zilei also fears a “Brexit epidemic!”, and declares that the “EU is falling apart” as nationalists in the Netherlands, France and Italy seek referendums.

Image source, Gazeta Wyborcza

Image caption, “Union – plus or minus Britain”

Hungary’s opposition Nepszabadsag says Hungary “will lose on account of Brexit”, especially in terms of funding for poorer countries.

Albert Gazda writes in Magyar Nemzet that “Not even Prime Minister Viktor Orban could save Britain!”, in a reference to the Hungarian leader’s advert in British newspaper appealing to voters to vote to remain.

Croatia’s Jutarnji daily also asks whether “other countries will leave the EU?”, reporting that “Eurosceptics are ecstatic”, in particular, it claims, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.

‘Profound and long-lasting impact’

The reverberations of the Brexit vote are felt far beyond Europe.

Image caption, Questions about Britain’s new path “could remain unresolved for years”, says the New York Times

In the New York Times, London correspondent Steven Erlanger suspects the result has left many Britons in a state of existential anxiety.

“Will Britain be the outward-looking, entrepreneurial, confident country that makes its independent way in the world, as the leaders of the ‘Leave’ campaign insisted it could be? Or will it retreat to become a Little England, nationalist and a touch xenophobic, responding to the voters that drove it to quit the European Union?” he asks, adding that “with Scotland deeply pro-Europe, pressure will increase for another independence referendum that could bring an end to the United Kingdom.

“Britain, a nation whose storied history has encompassed the birth of constitutional government, global empire, royal pageantry and heroic defense against fascism, is entering unknown territory,” he says, predicting adding that “the questions about its new path could remain unresolved for years.

“The impact of this plebiscite is likely to be profound and long-lasting, well beyond the immediate tumult in the financial markets, and the questions about Britain’s future will be answered against the backdrop of potential political, legal and economic upheaval,” he concludes.

Russia’s Kommersant FM radio reports the result as “leading to a collapse on global currency markets and dealing the biggest blow to a united Europe since the Second World War”.

In Ukraine, political analyst Ruslan Bortnik tells the Segodnya daily that the vote will strengthen Eurosceptics and weaken European integration, meaning that “plans for Ukraine’s integration into the EU will be postponed or even become impossible”.

Komsomolskaya Pravda v Ukraine agrees that the “literally historic” vote means the “chances are that the EU will start falling apart. Eurosceptics are not wasting any time.”

The Turkish media have responded with alarm to the referendum result.

CNN Turk hosted a studio discussion in which the consensus was that the Brexit vote was “shocking for the EU”, and that the “divorce period will be very painful”. The guests also flagged up “separatist winds” in Scotland.

Among newspaper websites, Hurriyet says “Europe is in shock”, while Yeni Safak says Britain bids “Goodbye to Europe”.  

Milliyet is concerned that France and the Netherlands may now face their own referendums, while pro-government Aksam says Britain’s departure does not help Turkey’s chances of joining the EU, a “dream that did not come true”.

‘Emboldening Russia’

Australian commentators are generally less apocalyptic in their assessments.

The Age says the “protracted political and legal mess” of leaving the EU will lead to “no instant change”, and James Chessell writes in the Australian Financial Review that “Brexit won’t be as bad as people think – it will hurt the EU more than it hurts the UK”.

The Sydney Morning Herald‘s security correspondent David Wroe is more concerned that a distracted Britain will lose its “usually reliable role as a security player for years to come, emboldening Russia and possibly diminishing Washington’s ‘pivot’ to Asia, with consequences for Australia’s region”.

Image source, The Sydney Morning Herald

Image caption, The Sydney Morning Herald

Business editor Michael Pascoe is blunter, telling the Herald’s readers that Britain is of “minor importance to Australia, worth only a couple of percentage points of our exports”.

But he regrets the “shrinking vision, the reduced hearts and minds of what was once a rather grand outward-looking nation”.

Indian news portals, amid reporting the latest developments from what The Hindu calls “The Divided Kingdom”, also reflect on the possible impact for their own country.

Live Hindustan portal highlights “five possible problems” Brexit poses for India, above all a falling rupee-dollar rate that would make oil imports more expensive.

Image caption, Indonesia’s Kompas

Turmoil on Far Eastern markets is the main point that Japanese, South Korean and Chinese news portals are taking away from the Brexit story, although there is also interest in the future of the EU.

The front page of Shanghai’s Xinmin Evening News proclaims “Goodbye EU”, saying Brexit is a “huge blow to Europe”.

Image source, Tokyo Shimbun

Image caption, Tokyo Shimbun: “UK leaves EU”

‘Domino effect’

Arab newspapers largely agree that the referendum will change Europe and possibly trigger more moves towards separation.

The headline in Lebanon’s Al-Nahar daily declares that “Europe will not be the same”, but there is more uncertainty about its impact on Arab countries.

The Saudi daily Okaz says it could give the Gulf Cooperation Council more investment opportunities in Britain, “which has considered the Gulf an influential economic and trade centre since the old days”, but Kuwait’s Al-Rai doubts that Brexit “will have any effect” as “it is none of our business”.

Image caption, Saudi Okaz: More investment for the Gulf?

Anshel Pfeffer wrote in Israel’s Haaretz that Brexit will “send shock waves that will be felt from London, through Brussels and the rest of the EU capitals to the whole world”, and he also expects more calls for referendums in other EU states.

‘Eating itself alive’

African newspapers report the story prominently, and South Africa’s media fear the impact of Brexit on their own economy.

International trade analyst Raymond Parsons tells the Rand Daily Mail the vote will probably weaken the rand and “shave about 0.1% off South Africa’s GDP”.

Justice Malala fears that Britain is “eating itself alive”, with “profound international consequences”.

He tells the Rand Daily Mail that an EU without the UK “might tip the world back to the fascistic, mean, dangerous political waters of the 1930s. We will feel the effects through trade, diplomacy and other ways here in South Africa”.

Brazilian and Argentine newspapers lead on the story, paying particular attention to UKIP leader Nigel Farage.

His portrait heads the Argentine Clarin‘s story, which notes that voters “braved the weather with stoicism” to produce a high turnout.

The Brazilian daily Folha de Sao Paulo also features a photo of Mr Farage, but focuses on “panic on Asian markets”.

Image source, Folha de Sao Paulo

Image caption, Brazil’s Folha de Sao Paulo worries about “panic on Asian markets”

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