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September 13, 2018updated 14 Sep 2018 9:40am

Daily Mail’s ‘screaming handbrake turn’ on hard Brexit as news pages have ‘very different tone’ under Geordie Greig

By Keith Gladdis

Keith Gladdis is a director of MHP Communications and former executive news editor at the Daily Mail.

There was something very different about yesterday’s Daily Mail.

It may not have been evident from the “Obesity Britain” splash headline and certainly not from the front page photograph of Diana, Princess of Wales.

But inside the paper, tucked away at the bottom of the leader column, was the Daily Mail equivalent of a screaming handbrake turn.

It was the first clear indication of the path the Daily Mail will follow under Geordie Greig, its first new editor since Paul Dacre took over more than 26 years ago.

After more than two years of telling its readers “Brexit means Brexit”, “No Deal is Better than a Bad Deal” and pretty much banning the term “hard Brexit” came the following:

“The failure of Tory hard-Brexiteers to offer up an alternative to Theresa May’s Chequers plan exposes the essential void at the heart of their prospectus.

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“While the Mail sympathises with some of their reservations about the Chequers blueprint, it remains the only coherent proposal on the table for an orderly EU withdrawal.

“If they have a better plan, let them show it.”

That’s a clear and unequivocal challenge to the likes of Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg who threaten the leadership of Theresa May over her Chequers plan.

This is the same plan that would leave Britain with at least half a foot in the EU, and potentially under the sway of institutions such as the European Court of Justice.

Is this really the same newspaper that splashed with “Enemies of the People” when the judiciary ruled on the need for a Parliamentary vote to invoke Article 50, or targeted Remainers with its “Crush the Saboteurs” front page?

Geordie Greig’s news pages already have a very different tone.

Yesterday the brilliant photograph of Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Peter Bone with their heads in their hands was complemented with stories about a No Deal Brexit putting your holiday at risk and tens of thousands of jobs under threat at Jaguar Land Rover.

Only a few weeks ago those kind of “No Deal” headlines would have been dismissed as “Project Fear”.

When Greig was editor of the Mail on Sunday his pro-Remain leaders were in stark contrast to the staunchly pro-Brexit daily. That led to some over-excited Remainers predicting an overnight u-turn in its stance on Brexit.

Former cabinet minister Andrew Adonis even said Greig’s appointment marked nothing short of “a revolution in the British media … very likely we will now stop Brexit”.

Indeed, Dacre has warned that it would be “editorial and commercial suicide” for the Daily Mail to reverse its stance on the withdrawal from the EU.

He said support for Brexit was “in the DNA of the Daily Mail and, more pertinently, its readers”.

Greig might have ripped the wood paneling and overly firm sofas out of Dacre’s office.

But he is a shrewd enough journalist to know his readers wouldn’t stomach a campaign to put the brakes on Brexit.

After all 66 per cent of Daily Mail readers voted to leave the European Union.

Instead he appears determined to deliver a “pragmatic Brexit” with the least damage possible to the economy and Theresa May.

As far as Geordie Greig’s Daily Mail is concerned, the new “Enemies of the People” will be Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party.

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