Senior bishop says Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph presentation of Brexit judges like something from Nazi Germany

'The press don't just reflect the public discourse, they also shape it'

Samuel Osborne
Sunday 06 November 2016 12:17
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The press erupted over the High Court's ruling on Brexit
The press erupted over the High Court's ruling on Brexit

Britain should be "very alarmed" at the way newspapers reacted to the High Court decision Parliament must vote on triggering Article 50, a senior Church of England bishop has said.

The Daily Mail was accused of an "attack on the rule of law" after its front page story carried the headline "Enemies of the people" alongside images of the three judges, while the Daily Telegraph said "The judges versus the people".

Discussing the papers' response to the ruling, Nick Baines told BBC Radio 4's Sunday programme: "The press don't just reflect the public discourse, they also shape it.

"The last time we saw things like the photographs of judges on the front page of a newspaper described as enemies of the people is in places like Nazi Germany, in Zimbabwe and places like that."

Farage tells Brexiters to 'get even'

He added: "But in a parliamentary democracy, with Parliament sovereign – which is apparently what Brexit was about – then surely the rule of law is very important to that constitution. To undermine the law in that way... it's a very dangerous thing."

However, the Daily Mail's Stephen Glover disagreed, saying: "I'm not going to get bogged down in defending the headline but I am going to stand for the principle that such a momentous ruling by these three judges is a legitimate object of examination and criticism by the press.

"To compare it with Nazi Germany or Zimbabwe, which I happen to know very well, is outrageous. We have free press in this country and they should be allowed to criticise judges when they make really what is an extraordinary intervention."

Mr Baines replied: "Why is it an extraordinary intervention when they're doing their job? If the vote had gone the other way, Nigel Farage had said before the referendum, if it was within one per cent we would probably go to law.

"Now Theresa May has been given the right to appeal to the Supreme Court. Criticise the decision on legal grounds, but you cannot do this ad hominem attack on particular people, especially on grounds of them being gay."

Mr Glover said: "Look, it's one headline and it has to be read in the context of all the coverage of what the judges did. Nobody is saying the judges didn't have a right to make this decision, nobody is questioning the independence of the judiciary."

Theresa May has vowed to continue her plans to withdraw Britain from the EU following the ruling.

In a column for The Sunday Telegraph, she wrote: “Parliament voted to put the decision about our membership of the EU in the hands of the British people. The people made their choice, and did so decisively. It is the responsibility of the Government to get on with the job and to carry out their instruction in full.”

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