Last year, Paul Dacre’s Daily Mail greeted the general election with the front-page headline: “Crush the Saboteurs”. Today, his successor, Geordie Greig, confirms the paper’s change of Brexit policy. “Saboteurs endangering our nation,” its editorial declares. But this time round, the reference is to ERG-type Brexiteers. The trolling of Dacre is unmissable.
Those Leavers aren’t flavour of the moment at the Sun, either. “It is vital that the Tories support her. There is no coronation candidate to replace her,” it said yesterday.
The Daily Telegraph is a variable trumpet. Many of its star columnists – including Philip Johnston and Tim Stanley, who are the main leader writers – are sympathetic to EEA membership. This isn’t the paper’s position, at least if a recent editorial opposing the backstop is the measure. Nigel Farage, who is well-regarded by the Telegraph’s proprietors, has a frequent platform.
Among the quad of dailies that this site labels the Tory press, that leaves only the Express stable. This has been bought by Trinity Mirror. That’s brought fewer headlines about migrants, though no policy change on Brexit. But the Express isn’t in the Mail league as a power.
Editorials count for little on their own: what matters are stories, and their projection. Fleet Street isn’t the force it was – particularly if one counts print sales rather than online consumption. But the new absence of a campaigning Brexit paper matters. Downing Street will be alert to this as we lurch towards Deal or No Deal.