When the Daily Mail cleared its front page on Thursday (3 February) for an EU referendum special in which it asked ‘Who Will Speak for England?’, it probably never envisaged the stream of creative satire that social media would adopt in answering the question.
Using the hashtag #WhoWillSpeakForEngland, Twitter users have juxtaposed the Mail’s question with a range of suggestions including the Chuckle Brothers, David Brent and Pat Sharp. Some of the most notable are below.
— Martin P (@MartinWrites) February 4, 2016
— Arron Crascall (@arron_crascall) February 4, 2016
— elliott (@_e_l_l_i_o_t_t_) February 4, 2016
— Andrew Bloch (@AndrewBloch) February 4, 2016
The Daily Mail's headline was a nod to the Tory anti-appeaser Leo Amery’s 1939 parliamentary remarks during an anxious debate on whether to intervene on behalf of Poland which had been invaded by the Nazis the previous day. Tory PM Neville Chamberlain had just made an ambivalent statement to the House, proposing no immediate action. As Labour's deputy leader, Arthur Greenwood, rose to reply for the Opposition, Amery famously bellowed across the floor: “Speak for England, Arthur!”
The Mail has been adamant in its denial that it was not eluding to any parallels between the EU and Nazi Germany, rather it was emphasising the significance of what it described as “a crossroads in our island history”.