Paul Dacre has said any change to the Daily Mail’s support for Brexit after his departure as editor later this year would be “editorial and commercial suicide”.
In his first public words since he announced last week that he will step down from his role after 26 years, Dacre said he had heard from “countless” readers worried about whether the Daily Mail will continue to support EU withdrawal.
Writing for the Spectator’s Diary feature this week, Dacre said: “My answer to them – and others – is unequivocal.
“Support for Brexit is in the DNA of both the Daily Mail and, more pertinently, its readers. Any move to reverse this would be editorial and commercial suicide.”
Dacre revealed that he received “many lovely letters from public figures” in the past week, the warmest coming from former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Labour peer Lord Blunkett.
He also said: “I thank my stars for a career that’s been enthralling, privileged and profoundly fulfilling.”
Dacre noted the mixed reaction to his departure, saying: “It seems I’m a somewhat divisive character…”
Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee last week described Dacre as “poisoner of the national psyche, bully-in-chief, whose iron whim has terrified prime ministers for a quarter of a century”.
In response, former Observer editor Roger Alton wrote to the Guardian to defend Dacre, calling him a “very great man and a newspaperman of genius”.
Dacre also responded to Mail on Sunday columnist Rachel Johnson’s appearance on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme “rejoicing that the future Mail will be less inflammatory and more inclusive”.
He wrote: “If calling five racist London thugs ‘Murderers’ on the front page or carrying a picture of a swimming sea turtle swallowing a plastic supermarket bag is inflammatory, I plead guilty.”
He also listed a number of other Mail campaigns that have “given voice to the voiceless” including justice for the Omagh bomb victims, the release of Shaker Aamer from Guantanamo and sanctuary for the army’s Afghan interpreters.
“As for the other ‘i’ word, one of the main reasons Britain voted Brexit was the refusal by our ruling class, led by the BBC, to allow a mature debate on mass immigration which has nothing to do with race and everything to do with numbers,” Dacre added.
“If the Mail promoted that debate and helped prevent the rise here of the kind of ugly right-wing political movements now festering across the EU, then I suffer my critics’ obloquy with pride.”
Dacre will become chairman and editor-in-chief of Associated Newspapers, publisher of the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and Metro newspapers and Mail Online website, from 1 October this year.
Picture: Reuters /Suzanne Plunkett