David Cameron 'tried to get Daily Mail editor sacked' over Brexit

BBC Newsnight reports claim former Prime Minister lobbied to have Paul Dacre removed by paper's propreitor Lord Rothermere

Wednesday 01 February 2017 07:15 GMT
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David Cameron, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, speaks at DePauw University
David Cameron, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, speaks at DePauw University (AP)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

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David Cameron has been accused of trying to get the editor of the Daily Mail sacked over the paper's strident backing for Brexit.

According to BBC Newsnight, the former Prime Minister lobbied to have Paul Dacre removed during a meeting with the paper's proprietor, Lord Rothermere.

It is thought Mr Cameron had grown increasingly frustrated with the Mail's vehement anti-EU stance and urged Lord Rothermere to temper the tone of his paper.

Mr Cameron is also reported to have met with Mr Dacre on 2 February over his "new settlement" with the EU - the deal Mr Cameron struck with the other 27 EU states in an attempt to change Britain's future in Europe – and asked him to "cut him some slack".

Instead, the Mail savaged the PM over the deal, describing it as Mr Cameron's "Great Delusion".

The paper has also repeatedly attacked Mr Cameron's government over levels of immigration, which it has long claimed are too high.

The Mail came out staunchly in favour of Brexit on 21 June, two days before the referendum.

In a two-page editorial, it said that "by any calculation" Britain would face higher tariff and economic uncertainty, saying it was "not the time to risk the peace and prosperity" of the UK.

Sister publication the Mail on Sunday - which is a separate publication with a different editorial team - urged its readers to vote Remain.

The Mail has been fiercely critical of immigration and accused of being entirely anti-immigrant, with headlines including: "Migrants: How many more can we take?" and "Immigration: What a mess!"

A spokesman for Lord Rothermere refused to confirm or deny the claims to the BBC, but did say that he has many times been "leant on by more than one prime minister to remove Associated Newspapers' editors".

A spokesman for Mr Cameron told the BBC: "It is wrong to suggest that David Cameron believed he could determine who edits the Mail.

"It is a matter of public record that he made the case that it was wrong for newspapers to argue that we give up our membership of the EU.

"He made this argument privately to the editor of the Mail, Paul Dacre, and its proprietor, Lord Rothermere."

In a statement by Mr Dacre, given to The Independent, he said: "For 25 years, I have been given the freedom to edit the Mail on behalf of its readers without interference from Jonathan Rothermere or his father. It has been a great joy and privilege."

In March, the Mail and The Sun were singled out in a report on “hate speech” and discrimination in the UK.

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) took aim at some British media outlets, particularly tabloid newspapers, for “offensive, discriminatory and provocative terminology

The paper also drew widespread condemnation for describing High Court judges as "Enemies of the People".

The Independent has reached out to Mr Cameron and approached the Mail for further comment.

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