Since Paul Dacre was ditched as editor of the Daily Mail, the paper has been pursuing a bizarre form of commercial suicide, just as John Smith in TCW predicted it would.

The title that Dacre had built up since the early 1990s has been undergoing the most brutal of surgery at the hands of his successor, Geordie Greig.

Ignoring his former boss’s warning that ‘support for Brexit is in the DNA of both the Daily Mail and, more pertinently, its readers. Any move to reverse this would be editorial and commercial suicide’, Greig has proceeded undeterred to trans-identify the Daily Mail as a May-supporting BRINO organ, apparently oblivious to the consequences of insulting his readership.

The ‘screaming handbrake turn’ he executed was described by Press Gazette as a ‘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’.

It has not taken long for readers to figure out that their paper no longer agrees with their views. The Mail’s ‘Have they lost the plot?’ splash (referring to those Tory MPs seeking to depose May as ‘peacocking saboteurs’, ‘low-grade assassins’ and so on) was the last straw. It had outraged comments coming fast and furious – and rumours that Mail executives were busy deleting them. John Smith in TCW asked whether this was the Mail’s ‘Gerald Ratner’ moment.

You might have thought that they would stop digging. But no, Greig is a man on a mission. Last Wednesday’s Mail splash was another smack in the face of his readership. It adjured MPs to listen to the Mail’s advice to back May. It was, I tweeted, propaganda of the highest order.

Now the Associated Newspapers campaign to back Mrs May (whatever the cost to its readership) has cranked up another gear.

Yesterday the Mail on Sunday revealed itself to have been co-opted to the cause – and with a vengeance. In by far the most aggressively interventionist article to date, the paper directly instructed its readers to: ‘Save us from Brexit chaos: Tell YOUR MP to back May’s deal – and all you need to do to send an email is click on this story’.

A list of the full complement of MPs and their constituencies followed to be selected and clicked.

By 4.30pm 5,500 appalled comments had been posted on the Mail website telling it where to go, the most moderate of which retorted that ‘the DM will not find much support among its readers. We’ve all been stabbed in the front’.

Time will tell if this indeed the Mail titles’ Gerald Ratner moment. We watch the share price with interest.

There is one new certainty. Any talk of Ted Verity, the editor of the Mail on Sunday, being independent has now been demonstrated to be untrue. He comes out of this debacle as a weak editor. That is sad.

Oh, I almost forgot. Their star writers are voting with their feet too. Quentin Letts has packed his bags for The Sun and The Sunday Times; leaving them with a bit of a problem as he did so much for the paper. Tom Utley, I understand will be carrying on with his Friday column, but has also left – he wrote leaders. Is Littlejohn next to go? Watch this space.

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