'Lame duck for Christmas': UK papers see pyrrhic win for PM

Theresa May heads back to Brussels on Thursday in a long-shot bid to wrest concessions that could win her some additional votes.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May makes a statement outside 10 Downing Street in central London after winning a confidence vote on 12 December 2018. Picture: AFP

LONDON - Britain's partisan newspapers mostly agreed on Thursday that Prime Minister Theresa May has been damaged and faces all-but-impossible Brexit hurdles despite winning her party's confidence vote.

"It's lame duck for Christmas," the opposition Labour party-backing Daily Mirror wrote on its front page.

The more independent-minded commuter newspaper said May received a "stay of execution".

And the Brexit-support _The Sun _said the "coup plot may lead to (a) historic breakup of the Tory party".

May won the backing of 200 Conservative party MPs in a secret ballot on Wednesday.

But 117 voted against her -- a margin that underscored the extent of the opposition from her own ranks to the draft withdrawal agreement May struck with EU leaders last month.

The no-confidence vote was initiated by staunchly anti-EU MPs in May's party.

Her deal is also opposed by Labour and smaller opposition parties in parliament that want closer ties with Brussels.

The scale of the resistance, and May's promise to her party on Wednesday to not contest the 2022 election, made newspapers question the extent of the British leader's victory.

"Tory coup fails. But scale of rebellion damages May," said the left-wing The Guardian.

"Theresa May scrapes home," said The Times.

The traditionally right-wing paper said five ministers were now urging May to let parliament "hold a series of 'indicative' votes on every conceivable option" of Brexit.

May pulled a vote scheduled for Tuesday on the draft agreed last month with her 27 EU counterparts because of its certain defeat.

She heads back to Brussels on Thursday in a long-shot bid to wrest concessions that could win her some additional votes.

EU leaders refuse to renegotiate the actual draft but seem willing to offer May non-binding assurances on the main dispute involving measures to prevent the return of a hard border with Ireland.

May has promised to re-submit her Brexit deal for a vote in the House of Commons by 21 January.