"It's lame duck for Christmas," the opposition Labour party-backing Daily Mirror wrote on its front page. The more independent-minded i 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 minister 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 January 21.