Just when you thought the issue of Britain’s EU membership had no one left to divide, the right-wing press has split over Brexit. The Times is In while its stablemates, The Sunday Times and The Sun, are Out. But the most surprising development over the weekend was the Mail on Sunday coming out for Remain.
In a two-page editorial, the paper – which once splashed on a story headlined “EU to Ban Selling Eggs by the Dozen” – warned that this is “not the time to risk the peace and prosperity” of the UK:
“We may be lured by the notion of being marginally freer, but we will be significantly poorer. For modern Great Britain to thrive and prosper we must work with, not against, our European partners; we must keep our seat at Europe’s top table and help shape its destiny; our strong, clear voice must be heard inside Europe, not be shouted from the sidelines.
“This newspaper believes in a safe, free, and prosperous future for this proud country. And so we urge you, our readers, not to take a leap into the dark. Vote to remain in the European Union – for an even greater Britain.”
Its sister weekday paper, the Daily Mail, hasn’t yet declared its stance, and was recently ranked the second most pro-Leave paper (after the Express) by a Loughborough University media research study. But anyone who has even glanced at its front pages will know the way it leans. Here’s a lovely recent one:
Theories abound about the splits between papers owned by the same proprietors. Is Rupert Murdoch hedging his bets, for commercial and reputational reasons, with the diversity of his News UK titles’ positions? And is Lord Rothermere doing the same with his Mail titles? Or, as the HuffPo suggests, is this a sign of big political decisions falling to editors, rather than proprietors? The Mail split in particular hints at tempestuous internal politics between MoS editor Geordie Greig and Paul Dacre, the eurosceptic Daily Mail editor.
Your mole will keep an eye on The Telegraph and Daily Mail to see what happens next with those tricksy right-wing titles we love so dearly.