Friday

7th May 2021

Tabloid says Queen wants UK to leave EU

  • Queen Elizabeth II with her husband, Philip (Photo: Steve Evans)

Britain’s top-selling tabloid has said Queen Elizabeth II wants the UK to leave the EU, in a report denied by her office and by the politician to whom she's said to have spoken.

The Sun's front page splash on Wednesday (9 March) ran with the headline Queen Backs Brexit.

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  • The Sun has 1.9 million readers a day, but sales are down after it stopped printing pictures of topless models (Photo: thesun.co.uk)

It said she had made pro-Brexit remarks on two occasions: at a lunch in Windsor Castle with the then deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and at a reception with MPs in Buckingham Palace.

She reportedly told Clegg that the EU was “heading in the wrong direction” in remarks that The Sun described as a “stinging reprimand” that went on for “quite a while” and left her lunch guests "stunned".

She reportedly told MPs on the second occasion: "“I don’t understand Europe." The Sun said the 89-year old monarch “snapped angrily” and spoke with “venom and emotion”.

“We would … not be taking the big step in reporting them [her comments] if they had not come from two different and impeccably placed sources,” The Sun said.

Reacting to the story, the Buckingham Palace press office said: “The Queen remains politically neutral as she has for 63 years.

"The referendum is a matter for the British people to decide."

Clegg said on Twitter: “I told the [Sun] journalist this is nonsense. I've no recollection of this happening and it’s not the sort of thing I would forget.”

But The Sun said neither response had "expressly denied" the truth of its report.

The Sun is the UK’s top selling paper. Its average daily circulation in March last year was 1.9 million, according to UK media monitor the Audit Bureau of Circulation. But its popularity fell 10 percent after it stopped printing pictures of topless models.

The UK’s second biggest selling paper, The Daily Mail, on 1.6 million, is also strongly eurosceptic.

Their readership is much higher than that of leading broadsheets The Daily Telegraph (480,000), The Times (390,000), the Financial Times (213,000) and The Guardian (170,000).

The Telegraph is also eurosceptic. The Times, like The Sun, is owned by Australian tycoon Rupert Murdoch who has made his pro-Brexit views clear on Twitter.

Murdoch described UK leader David Cameron’s recent deal on EU reforms as “a nothing”, adding: “How can sensible cabinet colleagues accept this?”

The Queen’s influence on public opinion is hard to measure.

But her Christmas Day speech last year attracted 7.5 million TV viewers, more than watched popular prime-time shows such as Downton Abbey and Strictly Come Dancing.

The UK referendum on EU membership is to take place on 23 June.

The Sun noted that the Queen was due to make a big speech in mid-June on the official celebration of her 90th birthday.

“Fears are also growing the Queen will come under heavy pressure from No 10 to make a pro-EU intervention … just days before the nationwide vote,” The Sun said.

Its story was welcomed by anti-EU British MPs including Jacob Rees Mogg and Steve Baker. Rees Mogg told The Sun that “she [the Queen] is there to protect us from European encroachment”. Baker said: “This is a happy day.”

In a survey conducted by British pollster YouGov following Cameron’s EU reform deal in February, those who want to remain in the EU had a slim lead.

Some 40 percent said they wanted to stay in the EU, 37 percent wanted to leave, 18 percent did not know and five percent said they did not care.

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