The “Brexit” vote has reinforced the power of Britain’s tabloids, which supported the measure relentlessly. They are courted by politicians and TV news follows their lead.
Tony Gallagher, editor of The Sun, one of Britain’s most raucous and influential tabloids, looks down on the government, literally. From the height of his 12th-floor newsroom, all glass and views, the Palace of Westminster seems like a toy castle, something to be played with or ignored at will.
Gallagher also looks down on the editor of the more measured Times of London, whose office is one floor below and who makes a point of keeping his blinds drawn. The hierarchy is not lost on either man.
In Britain after the Brexit vote, the power of the tabloids is evident. Their circulations may be falling and their reputations tarnished by a series of phone-hacking scandals. But as the country prepares to cut ties with the European Union after a noisy and sometimes nasty campaign, top politicians court the tabloids and fear their wrath. Broadcasters follow where they lead, if not in tone then in topic.
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Their readers, many of them over 50, working class and outside London, look strikingly like the voters who were crucial to the outcome of last year’s referendum on membership in the European Union. It is these citizens of Brexitland the tabloids purport to represent from the heart of enemy territory: Housed in palatial dwellings in some of London’s most expensive neighborhoods, they see themselves as Middle England’s embassies in London.
In the campaign leading up to a snap election on June 8, most tabloids can be counted on to act as the zealous guardians of Brexit and as a cheering section for the Conservative government of Prime Minister Theresa May — even though the city that houses them voted the other way.
Gallagher made his mark on three of Britain’s most stridently…