Jared O’Mara is yet to make his maiden speech in Parliament, says the Sun – and ‘it might not be a bad thing if it stays that way’. The ‘disgraced’ Labour MP – who ousted Nick Clegg from his Sheffield Hallam seat at the snap election – has said sorry for his ‘crass comments’, which included making jokes about rape and calling overweight people ‘“f***ing pigs”’. But his ‘patronising “apology’’, in which he pinned the blame on ‘“lad culture and football” — isn’t enough’, isn’t enough, says the Sun. O’Mara is so useless, argues the Sun, that it almost makes the paper ‘wish that Nick Clegg…was still in Parliament’. Yet despite O’Mara’s comments and his apparent lack of contrition, the Labour party still has not suspended him. This is ‘no surprise’, says the Sun. ‘After all’, the paper argues, O’Mara is ‘one of the hard-Left cheerleaders propping up Jeremy Corbyn’.
‘Anyone who thought that the hard part of Brexit would be the first stage’ – and not the forthcoming trade talks – is wrong, argues the Daily Telegraph. The paper says that recent events – including another briefing against Theresa May in a German newspaper, as well as Donald Tusk’s language of ‘confrontation’ yesterday in which he called on the EU to ‘remain united or risk being “defeated” in negotiations’ – disabuses the idea that the most difficult part of Brexit talks is almost behind us. What’s more, those in the European Parliament are also stepping up the fighting talk. ‘Manfred Weber, leader of the European People’s Party, has vowed to block ‘any plan that gave Britain the same benefits outside the EU as it had inside’. Weber went on to say that the current Article 50 period should be seen as the transition period – in contrast to Britain’s plan to seek a transition period from 2019. ‘This difference of view needs to be sorted out within the next 12 months because the MEPs have a veto on the eventual agreement’, points out the Telegraph. Whatever does end up happening, the Government is clearly right to plan for a Brexit ‘no deal’.
Meanwhile, the decision of a Tory MP, Chris Heaton-Harris, to ask universities for the details of Brexit lecturers is condemned in the Guardian. Downing Street has distanced itself from his letter – and so, too, has the universities minister, Jo Johnson. ‘No matter’, says the Guardian – the damage is done. And the letter’s ‘whiff of McCarthyism will linger corrosively’, argues the paper, suggesting that this is an extension of the ‘them and us (narrative) of last year’s referendum’. Whatever Heaton-Harris might say about his attempt to find details of those teaching students about Brexit being merely a ’harmless information-gathering request’, this is nothing of the sort. Instead, it is part of a ‘campaign to discredit the case for remaining and to intimidate its supporters’. This also risks ‘opening a new front in the post-referendum culture wars between younger and older voters’, warns the Guardian.