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16 December 2016

Daily Mail columnist invokes the spirit of Christmas and calls for people to be less nasty

Yes, really.

By media mole

In the spirit of the season of goodwill, Daily Mail columnist Tom Utley has penned a heartfelt plea to Remoaners to play nice and stop being so mean to the beleaguered Brexieteers.

Harking back to that “wonderful day in June”, Utley wrings his hands about the continued  “uncomprehending fury of die-hard Remainers” and calls for a period of peace befitting the festive season.

It’s not just politicians that he’s blaming for this climate of outrage: unnamed “BBC comedians” also come under attack for what Utley sees as their constant sneering at Leavers. Betraying a trace of possible paranoia, he writes: “They’re everywhere, from The Now Show and The News Quiz on radio to just about every panel game on TV — how about opening your minds for a change?”

Utley’s point is that his prime reason for voting leave was so Britain could regain control over law-making and trade deals, and more closely resemble the “self-governing nation in which I grew up until 1973”. But just as he appears to be making what almost reads like a reasonable argument, he breaks his own Christmas resolution of avoiding anger saying; “it strikes me as plain silly and rude to dismiss those who share my view as thick.”

He then goes on to himself dismiss any objections Remainers might have about the lies told by the Leave campaign such as the pledge to give £350 million a week extra to the NHS. “Speaking for myself, I haven’t met a single Brexiteer, from any walk of life, who believed that ludicrous whopper, painted on the side of the Leave bus.”

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Right. So does that make it okay to mislead the electorate? Just because the lie was so huge that it couldn’t possibly be true? The mole is perplexed.

He then brings up the former Chancellor George Osborne’s “scaremongering claim that withdrawal would cost every UK household precisely £4,300 a year”, as proof of fault on both sides. Wasn’t the point of this column to leave those petty feuds behind Tom? Not remind readers of them all over again? Hmmm. The mole can feel its snout twitching in rage. Where’s the goodwill gone?

The problem is that Utley undermines his plea for peace with the sneering, rage-filled tone of his writing. Yes, there has been anger and upset over the referendum result on both sides. Yes, it is wrong to brand all Leave voters “knuckle dragging racists” as he puts it – but these days the majority of politicians, and voters, have accepted the realities of Brexit and are focusing their fretting on issues such as access to the single market and Britain’s future trade deals.

He ends on this ever-so-harmonious note: “It will go against the grain, I know, but why not try entertaining the possibility that this is not a nation of morons — and that more than half the voting public may actually be right? Go on, make the effort. It’s Christmas, after all.”

How many so-called Remoaners will actually read this message of cheer and compassion is unclear given that the Daily Mail tends to be the newspaper of choice of Brexiteers – but at least Utley is extending the hand of irony to all this Christmas.