After yesterday’s thundering denunciations from the Europhobic part of the Fourth Estate of those campaigners who had the audacity to challenge the idea that Theresa May could trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty without consulting Parliament, the impression was given that those same papers that had been ranting at the High Court judges who were merely doing their job would now turn their fire on the Supreme Court.
All the weight of the least pleasant media attack dogs would be lent to the cause of making sure Thursday’s victory was reversed on appeal. Judges would be left in no doubt that, should they make a call that incurred the press’ displeasure, their privacy would be summarily invaded, their bins rifled through, their every move snooped on, their friends and families intimidated, and all this splashed across the papers.
The Editors’ Code of Conduct, in the meantime, would be upheld as evidence that demonstrated high principles, commitment to the noblest of intentions, the sanctity of properly independent press regulation, and respect for the rights and sensibilities of the individual, before being summarily thrown out the window as usual.
But after reading today’s editorials in both the Mail and Sun - the shock troops in the legions of Europhobic boot boys - it is clear that, since yesterday’s frenzy of incandescent rage, someone has been prevailed upon to engage brain and face reality. The calls of betrayal, the heightened paranoia over Brexit being put into reverse, the questioning of all Remain campaigner’s motives, all are still present. But the appeal has gone missing.
Both papers take aim at Nick Clegg - why? - with the Mail denouncing him as a “pipsqueak” (Paul Dacre really needs to get out more), followed by the intellectually undemanding sneer “Without any discernible great talent or intellect (though he has a beautiful wife!)”. Yeah, he’s a poo hole, but Phwoar, his missus, eh?
But one word is missing from the Mail’s rant: appeal. This is also true of the Sun’s equally intolerant tirade, which has its tone set by the headline “Theresa May would be mad not to crush pro-EU saboteurs and annihilate Corbyn’s Labour”, continuing “THE Brexit saboteurs of the Commons and Lords must be faced down and crushed”.
Ms May, they howl, must be ready to call an election next year (the Fixed Term Parliament Act is conveniently forgotten), asserting “She would annihilate Corbyn’s Labour and expose diehard Remain MPs to the wrath of their Leave-voting constituents”. There is the obligatory mental health smear: Clegg was “deranged by europhilia”.
But, despite the bullying tone, there was no talk of the Government’s appeal to the Supreme Court, only talk of an Article 50 bill being brought before Parliament. The boot boys of the Europhobic right have already given up on it. Their focus now is on softening up MPs and peers. So they clearly believe the appeal will fail.
And don’t forget, the press can afford the most expensive lawyers. I’ll just leave that one there.