Daily Mail backs Theresa May for leader as it condemns 'hyperbolic' and 'dishonest' referendum campaign

Daily Mail Theresa May for PM front page

The Daily Mail has backed Theresa May for Tory leader as it condemns a referendum characterised by “crass hyperbole” and “risible dishonesty” in a comment piece today.

The Mail, which was among several national titles to back Brexit, carried 19 front page stories judged to support Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union in the final month of the referendum campaign to June 23.

It was second only to the Daily Express in its pro-Leave bias, with the Express running 28 front pages favouring Brexit, Press Gazette analysis showed.

In a full page comment piece, teased on its front page with the headline “A party in flames and why it must be Theresa”, the right-leaning newspaper said: “After a referendum characterised by vicious animosity, crass hyperbole and risible dishonesty, the brutal truth, we suspect, is that the public’s trust in politicians yesterday reached a new low.”

It comes as the country wrestles with the fallout of last Friday’s Brexit result that led to David Cameron announcing he would step down as Prime Minister in autumn, triggering a leadership crisis within the Conservative Party and the country as a whole.

The Mail said: “In normal circumstances, this paper would hesitate to declare its hand before the closing stages of such a contest. But whatever these times may be, they are anything but normal.”

By contrast, a number of national newspapers only declared for a side in the EU referendum shortly before the vote, with the Mail coming out for Brexit two days before the referendum and the Daily Express telling readers to vote Leave on the day polling stations opened.

Five candidates have emerged as front runners to fill Cameron’s shoes, including home secretary May, justice decretary Michael Gove, Andrea Leadsom, work and pensions secretary Stephen Crabb and former defence minister Liam Fox.

The Mail said: “Among the five candidates vying to succeed David Cameron, the Mail believes only Mrs May has the right qualities, the stature and experience to unite both her party and the country – and possibly usher in a new, cleaner, more honest kind of politics.

“True, as she is the first to admit, she is not the most exciting of politicians. But, frankly, voters have had enough political excitement in the past few weeks to last them half a lifetime.”

The decision by Leave campaigner and former Mayor of London Boris Johnson to rule himself out of the leadership race yesterday dominated the front pages of today’s national newspapers.

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