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14 June 2016

Does it matter that The Sun has come out for Brexit?

The tabloid supports Britain leaving the EU.

By Media Mole

In British politics, it is a favourite activity of everyone who doesn’t read The Sun to proclaim that The Sun’s opinion counts the most.

Your mole finds a problem with this tendency, whether it’s from lefties claiming the right wing press has too much influence (which often slips into the suggestion that Sun readers can’t make up their own minds – ie. the electorate is stupid), or right wingers who label any stance other than The Sun’s as out-of-touch snobbery.

So your mole is naturally wary of the suggestion today that The Sun coming out for Brexit will swing the referendum in favour of Britain leaving the EU.


Image: The Sun

Commentators are right in saying The Sun has usually been on the winning side on these matters, and who can forget its triumphant splash “It’s the Sun Wot Won It” following the surprise Tory victory in 1992?

And it’s well-known that The Sun’s masters care just as much – if not more – about being on the populist side of the argument than necessarily taking a principled stand. It’s clear they’ve been watching the recent polls erring on the side of Brexit, and calculated that it’s not a huge commercial and reputational risk to back Leave.

So both The Sun’s influence and what it believes the outcome will be suggest that this is bad news for Remainers. But your mole is sceptical about this. Leaving the EU may generally be a preoccupation of those on the right, and those sceptical about the merits of immigration – both Sun-reading credentials. But remaining is still the most small-c conservative, status quo option. And the paper hasn’t always been right.