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Guardian calls ‘striking change’ in Daily Mail’s Brexit coverage after Paul Dacre exit a 'media and political milestone'

The Guardian has called Daily Mail editor Geordie Greig’s “very public shift” in tone on its coverage of Brexit and the Conservative Party “not just a media milestone” but also a political one.

The newspaper said the “very public shift” and “striking change” in the newspaper’s coverage had come in response to a change in the national mood over the ongoing negotiations to leave the European Union.

“A new editor has abandoned the aggressive tone with which the Mail campaigned for Brexit,” the Guardian said. “This reflects a change in the public mood.”

Paul Dacre, who used language such as “Remoaners” in leader columns and was behind headlines including: “Crush the saboteurs,” and “Enemies of the people”, stepped down in August after 26 years at the helm.

Mail on Sunday editor Geordie Greig took over as editor last month. Greig had backed the Remain campaign as editor of the weekly paper.

The Daily Mail yesterday teased its leader column on its front page, saying: “Enough is enough. The peacocking saboteurs out to knife Mrs May are dragging their party – and their country – towards the abyss.”

The column was headlined: “Saboteurs endangering our nation,” and took against the cabal of pro-Brexit MPs fighting Theresa May’s attempt to strike a compromise deal with the EU, known as the Chequers plan.

It said: “The Mail is well aware of the shortcomings of the Chequers plan. But the truth is that it’s the only plan on the table – and Mrs May is the only person who can drive it forward.

“This paper recognises that no one will get everything they want. But we believe that with good faith and unity of purpose, an acceptable outcome is still possible.”

The Guardian wrote that the headline may have seemed like “normal Daily Mail fare” but that the tone and focus of the column was “very different from [Paul Dacre’s] confident in-your-face era”.

“Instead of firing up the Brexiters for yet another act of anti-European contempt and defiance, as it had done for so long, the Mail this week turned its fire on them instead,” it added.

The newspaper also noted that former “Mail heroes” like Iain Duncan Smith and Boris Johnson were now being denounced as “vulgar bit-part players” and “back-stabbing plotters”.

Last month Keith Gladdis, a former executive news editor at the title, noted a “Daily Mail equivalent of a screaming handbrake turn” in leader column of the 12 September edition of the paper.

Gladdis said the column’s criticism of the “failure of Tory hard-Brexiteers to offer up an alternative to Theresa May’s Chequers plan” was the “first clear indication” of Greig’s new path for the newspaper.

The Guardian said last night: “The easy explanation for this shift would be to attribute it to the new editor, Geordie Greig, who replaced Paul Dacre last month after a 26-year reign. That is a big factor.

“But the deeper reason is that the national mood is changing. Brexit is becoming a burden on Britain. Doubts about the future are deepening.”

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