December ABC figures: it doesn't look good

Sales all down except for Guardian, Telegraph, Financial Times.

The Guardian, FT and Daily Telegraph all ended 2012 on a high note, with small month-on-month circulation increases. But sales of every other national newspaper were down year on year.

Sales of the UK’s top-selling daily The Sun fell by 10 per cent year on year as it competed with cut-price sales from the previous year, while the Daily Mirror kept its rate of decline to half that figure.

Most of the biggest year on year falls in the Sunday market were due to the distorting effect of the closure of the News of the World in July 2011.

Looking at the sales averages for 2012 as a whole, the Daily Mail and the Daily Mirror were among the best-performing titles in relative terms, keeping their print sales declines to 6 per cent and 6.6 per cent respectively.

UK national newspaper sales for December 2012 (source ABC)

National dailies

Average sale

Month/Month

Year/Year

bulks

Daily Mirror

   1,034,641

-0.99

-5.27

                 -

Daily Record

     250,096

-1.39

-8.89

          1,822

Daily Star

     540,548

-3.47

-12.32

                 -

The Sun

  2,277,809

-3.55

-10.00

                 -

Daily Express

     529,096

-1.52

-11.29

                 -

Daily Mail

   1,844,569

-1.44

-7.54

        91,361

The Daily Telegraph

     547,465

0.19

-6.74

                 -

Financial Times

      286,401

1.60

-14.19

        29,815

The Guardian

     204,222

0.31

-11.25

                 -

i

       291,311

-3.66

31.39

       65,239

The Independent

       78,082

-1.25

-34.69

        18,371

The Scotsman

       32,463

-0.83

-16.00

         2,368

The Times

      396,041

-0.82

-3.18

        17,100

Racing Post

       45,372

-1.70

-9.34

              63

 

 

 

 

 

This story first appeared on Press Gazette.

Year-on-year sales were down for December. Photograph: Getty Images

Dominic Ponsford is editor of Press Gazette

Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

Something is missing from the Brexit debate

Inside Westminster, few seem to have noticed or care about the biggest question mark in the Brexit talks. 

What do we know about the government’s Brexit strategy that we didn’t before? Not much, to be honest.

Theresa May has now said explicitly what her red lines on European law and free movement of labour said implicitly: that Britain is leaving the single market. She hasn’t ruled out continuing payments from Britain to Brussels, but she has said that they won’t be “vast”. (Much of the detail of Britain’s final arrangement is going to depend on what exactly “vast” means.)  We know that security co-operation will, as expected, continue after Brexit.

What is new? It’s Theresa May’s threat to the EU27 that Britain will walk away from a bad deal and exit without one that dominates the British newspapers.

“It's May Way or the Highway” quips City AM“No deal is better than a bad deal” is the Telegraph’s splash, “Give us a deal… or we walk” is the Mirror’s. The Guardian opts for “May’s Brexit threat to Europe”,  and “May to EU: give us fair deal or you’ll be crushed” is the Times’ splash.

The Mail decides to turn the jingoism up to 11 with “Steel of the new Iron Lady” and a cartoon of Theresa May on the white cliffs of Dover stamping on an EU flag. No, really.  The FT goes for the more sedate approach: “May eases Brexit fears but warns UK will walk away from 'bad deal’” is their splash.

There’s a lot to unpack here. The government is coming under fire for David Davis’ remark that even if Parliament rejects the Brexit deal, we will leave anyway. But as far as the Article 50 process is concerned, that is how it works. You either take the deal that emerges from the Article 50 process or have a disorderly exit. There is no process within exiting the European Union for a do-over.  

The government’s threat to Brussels makes sense from a negotiating perspective. It helps the United Kingdom get a better deal if the EU is convinced that the government is willing to suffer damage if the deal isn’t to its liking. But the risk is that the damage is seen as so asymmetric – and while the direct risk for the EU27 is bad, the knock-on effects for the UK are worse – that the threat looks like a bad bluff. Although European leaders have welcomed the greater clarity, Michel Barnier, the lead negotiator, has reiterated that their order of priority is to settle the terms of divorce first, agree a transition and move to a wider deal after that, rather than the trade deal with a phased transition that May favours.

That the frontpage of the Irish edition of the Daily Mail says “May is wrong, any deal is better than no deal” should give you an idea of how far the “do what I want or I shoot myself” approach is going to take the UK with the EU27. Even a centre-right newspaper in Britain's closest ally isn't buying that Britain will really walk away from a bad deal. 

Speaking of the Irish papers, there’s a big element to yesterday’s speech that has eluded the British ones: May’s de facto abandonment of the customs union and what that means for the border between the North and the South. “May’s speech indicates Border customs controls likely to return” is the Irish Times’ splash, “Brexit open border plan “an illusion”” is the Irish Independent’s, while “Fears for jobs as ‘hard Brexit’ looms” is the Irish Examiner’s.

There is widespread agreement in Westminster, on both sides of the Irish border and in the European Union that no-one wants a return to the borders of the past. The appetite to find a solution is high on all sides. But as one diplomat reflected to me recently, just because everyone wants to find a solution, doesn’t mean there is one to be found. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.