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European media unimpressed by May confidence vote

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image copyrightBBC Monitoring
British Prime Minister Theresa May's relief at winning the Conservative Party confidence vote is only momentary as nothing substantial about the withdrawal agreement is likely to change, many European newspapers say.
The difficulty of resolving the key issue of the Irish border means Europe continues to plan for a likely no-deal Brexit, several papers point out.

Small win is a 'slap in the face'

image copyrightLe Figaro
"Theresa May has saved her skin," says France's centre-right daily Le Figaro. But "the relief of having preserved the confidence of a majority of her MPs does not change the arithmetic of hostility towards the agreement".
image copyrightL'Obs
"With more than a third of MPs having disavowed her, the battle to pass the despised text in parliament promises to be fierce," notes the weekly magazine L'Obs. "Her small majority is also a slap in the face."
image copyrightEl Pais
She will come to the EU summit today "without the credit of trust to re-negotiate the agreement", says Spain's centre-left daily El Pais.

Anger over 'wannabe captains of Westminster'

Germany's popular tabloid Bild dismisses the vote of confidence as "political spectacle". 
"May's victory was foreseeable," the paper says, adding that it also does not change the "simple reality - there is NO parliamentary majority for any of the Brexit variants on the table".
"Among Brussels diplomats' anger is growing over the wannabe captains of Westminster, who are steering the whole country into a reality iceberg," it adds. 
image copyrightDe Tijd
Belgian financial daily De Tijd also criticises the confidence vote, calling it "the umpteenth distraction".

'Miscalculation' over Ireland

"One of the miscalculations made by most of the British political class in the Brexit saga was to underestimate the solidarity with Irish concerns by the rest of the EU," says commentator Stephen Collins in The Irish Times.
image copyrightThe Irish Times
"There was an expectation in London that EU unity would begin to fracture during the Brexit talks as major states eyed their own interests."
Another commentary in The Irish Independent, however, warns that those who came up with the backstop stipulated in the current withdrawal agreement "misread British politics and the British".
The demand "increased hostility towards Ireland in Britain" and "could end up bringing about that which it was designed to prevent", Dan O'Brien argues.
"The Irish question has become a key issue," agrees Germany's centre-left daily Suddeutsche Zeitung. "Everything stands or falls with it."
"As the danger of a no-deal scenario approaches, the memory of the once-hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland becomes stronger," it adds.

No-deal likelihood 'remains high'

image copyrightSuddeutsche Zeitung
"The deal on the table would be a pragmatic solution, but May has brought it to absurdity with her demands for renegotiation. The EU will not allow substantial changes, so Europe has to prepare for anything," Suddeutsche Zeitung says.
Meanwhile Belgium's centre-right daily De Standaard says: "The probability that May's deal will eventually be rejected, and Brexit ends in a no deal, remains high. That is why preparations for this catastrophic scenario continue unabated in Europe."
image copyrightVolkskrant
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is quoted in the centre-left Volkskrant newspaper suggesting that the EU might allow the UK to postpone Brexit.
"I cannot speak for 27 member states, but if such a question were to come up, this will in itself be looked upon sympathetically. That is what I surmise," he says, adding, however: "This must not become an appeal, because I may not be helping the British government."
BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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