MPs will vote for the first time today on the Government’s Article 50 timeline. While Labour have said the decision to spell out the plan for Brexit is a ‘welcome climbdown’ by ministers, is this afternoon’s debate merely delaying the actual process of Britain leaving the EU? That’s the Sun’s verdict on today’s proceedings, with the paper saying a ‘coalition of political pygmies’ are ‘stringing out the process in Parliament’. It goes on to say that Theresa May’s opponents ‘should stop pretending’ they are worried about democracy and Parliamentary sovereignty and instead own up to ‘their true aim’ – ‘reversing the referendum result’. The Sun reserves its biggest ire for what it calls ‘over-promoted Cameron cronies’ – singling out Anna Soubry and Nicky Morgan for spending their time laying into the PM. ‘They should be ashamed,’ the paper says.
The Daily Telegraph reminds MPs voting today that they are being watched by a majority of voters who backed Brexit. The paper says that ‘those who refuse to back the amendment will be making a public declaration of contempt for the voters’. But there’s praise for the Prime Minister: the Telegraph says that in tabling the motion, the Theresa May has shown the guile and ‘boldness’ many have demanded of her – because it offers a welcome chance to ‘call the bluff of Brexit’s parliamentary saboteurs’. The paper concludes that when the votes are in, MPs will ‘reveal their true colours’ and that ‘the people they work for will… judge them accordingly’.
Meanwhile, the Daily Mail takes a hit at the BBC for ‘bracketing Brexiteers’ in the same category as other ‘populist’ movements across Europe, including ‘European neo-fascists’. The Mail says that the Corporation’s referral to Brexit voters in this way ‘insults 52 per cent of British voters’. There’s warmer words for Niall Ferguson, though, after the historian said yesterday that he regretted not backing Brexit. The Mail says ‘Heaven will be ringing with joy’ over the ‘repentant sinner’ admitting he was wrong – and calls on other Remain voters to follow in Ferguson’s footsteps.
Britain’s poor showing in the Pisa education survey yesterday is the subject of discussion in the Times’s editorial. The paper says that compared to other countries around the world, it’s clear that schools in the UK are only ‘treading water’. It borrows a phrase from Theresa May to say that our education system is ‘just about managing’ – and argues that Brexit makes it even more vital that Britain ups its game in the education stakes. The paper says that ‘in a future outside the European Union’, the UK ‘must thrive on its wits’. But how can it achieve this? The Times offers two lessons from world-leading countries on education. It says that Britain must offer an ’uncompromising emphasis on academic rigour’ and make sure that a ‘high status’ is given to ‘the teaching profession’
Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.