The Daily Mail has hit back at critics who condemned its front page that focused on Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon’s legs rather than their politics.
The newspaper’s Tuesday splash showed a picture of the British prime minister and Scottish first minister with the headline, ‘Never mind Brexit, who won Legs-it!’
The front page of the two leaders was widely panned after it first appeared on Twitter on Monday night.
The PM, who’s new press secretary used to work at the Mail, said it was a “bit of fun”, telling the Wolverhampton Express and Star: “You will notice that I am wearing trousers today!
“As a woman in politics throughout my whole career I have found that very often, what I wear – particularly my shoes – has been an issue that has been looked at rather closely by people.
“Obviously what we do as politicians is what makes a difference to people’s lives. I think that most people concentrate on what we do as politicians.
“But if people want to have a bit of fun about how we dress, then so be it.”
The two leaders met at Glasgow’s Crowne Plaza Hotel on Monday to discuss Brexit, the triggering of Article 50 on Wednesday and Scotland’s potential independence.
— Ed Miliband (@Ed_Miliband) March 27, 2017
Moronic! And we are in 2017! pic.twitter.com/LTGEZdtNo3
— Harriet Harman (@HarrietHarman) March 27, 2017
But judging by the Daily Mail’s front page, the newspaper was only interested in one thing.
Inside the paper, an article on the meeting by columnist Sarah Vine was headlined: ‘Finest weapons at their command? Those pins!’
In her column, Vine wrote: ‘But what stands out here are the legs – and the vast expanse on show.
It's 2017. Two women's decisions will determine if United Kingdom continues to exist. And front page news is their lower limbs. Obviously pic.twitter.com/AMp0YvtISa
— Yvette Cooper (@YvetteCooperMP) March 27, 2017
‘There is no doubt that both women consider their pins to be the finest weapon in their physical arsenal. Consequently, both have been unsheathed.
‘May’s famously long extremities are demurely arranged in her customary finishing-school stance – knees tightly together, calves at a flattering diagonal, feet neatly aligned. It’s a studied pose that reminds us that for all her confidence, she is ever the vicar’s daughter, always respectful and anxious not to put a foot wrong.
‘Sturgeon’s shorter but undeniably more shapely shanks are altogether more flirty, tantalisingly crossed, with the dominant leg pointing towards her audience.
— Humza Yousaf (@HumzaYousaf) March 27, 2017
‘It’s a direct attempt at seduction: her stiletto is not quite dangling off her foot, but it could be.’
Politicians, journalists and commentators queued up on Twitter to lambast the front page.
Former Labour leader Ed Miliband tweeted: ‘The 1950s called and asked for their headline back’.
— Tom McKenzie (@TomMcKCharity) March 28, 2017
Labour MP Yvette Cooper wrote: ‘It’s 2017. Two women’s decisions will determine if United Kingdom continues to exist. And front page news is their lower limbs. Obviously’.
Her fellow MP Harriet Harman simply called it ‘moronic’.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted: ‘This sexism should be consigned to history. Shame on the Daily Mail’.
It's 2017. This sexism must be consigned to history. Shame on the Daily Mail. pic.twitter.com/V3RpFSgfnO
— Jeremy Corbyn MP (@jeremycorbyn) March 27, 2017
In response the Daily Mail branded critics “po-faced” and lacking any humour.
Daily Mail spokesman: “Has a po-faced BBC&left-wing commentariat, so obsessed by the Daily Mail, lost all sense of humour… and proportion?”
— Chris Mason (@ChrisMasonBBC) March 28, 2017
Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre’s Wikipedia page was even hacked, with the modified entry callling him ‘an English Caveman editing British hate promoting paper the Daily Mail’.
In contrast, the front page of the Scottish edition of the Mail carried the same photograph but a different headline: ‘Oh so frosty! Secrets of Nicola and PM’s talk-in’.
Interesting the Daily Mail's Scottish edition choses not to involve itself in the discussion over Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon's legs pic.twitter.com/zutHRnYovs
— Adrian Rutherford (@arutherfordNI) March 27, 2017
Later editions of the Mail ran the line, ‘Sarah Vine’s light-hearted verdict on the big showdown’.