Paul Dacre warns against softening Daily Mail's Brexit stance

Paper’s outgoing editor says it will be ‘commercial suicide’ if successor dilutes Brexit support

Paul Dacre has warned Geordie Greig, his successor as the Daily Mail’s editor, that any move to weaken the newspaper’s support for Brexit would be “editorial and commercial suicide”.

Greig, who edits the Mail on Sunday, was a strong supporter of the remain cause before and after the EU referendum, prompting speculation that he could alter the Daily Mail’s editorial line on the subject.

Dacre, who will hand over control of the paper in November after 26 years, used a column in the Spectator this week to say he had received “countless messages from readers worried about whether the Mail will continue its support for EU withdrawal”.

“Support for Brexit is in the DNA of both the Daily Mail and, more pertinently, its readers,” said Dacre in an unsubtle warning to Greig.

The pair have a notoriously frosty relationship and have repeatedly clashed over editorial lines while competing against each other for stories.

Part of Greig’s job will involve “detoxifying” the brand after Dacre’s departure, according to company insiders. The former editor will move upstairs to become editor-in-chief and chairman of the newspapers’ parent group.

Dacre criticised the journalist Rachel Johnson, who was hired by Greig to write a column for the Mail on Sunday, after she expressed hope that the Daily Mail would become “less inflammatory and more inclusive”.

Dacre said Johnson’s writing “gives banality a bad name” and defended his decision to run “shock headlines that secured justice” for Omagh bomb victims, the Guantánamo Bay detainee Shaker Aamer and Afghan interpreters who worked for the British army.

In his first public comments since his departure was announced Dacre also attacked the Guardian as a “knee-jerk leftist” newspaper and criticised the columnist Polly Toynbee for her views on his editorship, saying her “obsession with the Mail is almost psychotic”.

Dacre said he had received letters of congratulations from New Labour figures including Gordon Brown and David Blunkett, and said he could claim partial credit for Brexit due to his newspaper campaigning for “a mature debate on mass immigration which has nothing to do with race and everything to do with numbers”.

He said: “If the Mail promoted that debate and helped prevent the rise here of the kind of ugly rightwing political movements now festering across the EU, then I suffer my critics’ obloquy with pride.”


Jim Waterson Media editor

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