When a very important meeting between the UK’s Prime Minister Teresa May and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, a meeting focused on Brexit, the UK’s future relationship with the EU and a possible second Scottish Referendum; one would assume the main issues would dominate the front pages of newspapers. The seriousness of the occasion was nowhere to be found on today’s Daily Mail front cover which read: ‘Never mind Brexit, who won Leg-it!’
Unsurprisingly, the Daily Mail found itself on the receiving end of much criticism; many people took to Twitter to publicise their displeasure:
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn): ‘Its 2017. This sexism must be confined to history. Shame on the Daily Mail
Yvette Cooper (@YvetteCooperMP): It's 2017. Two women's decisions will determine if United Kingdom continues to exist. And front page news is their lower limbs. Obviously
Speaking to Sky News, Nicky Morgan (former equalities minister) said:
"These two very senior female politicians are being judged by their legs rather than what they said.
"I think this headline is deliberately provocative and it is deliberately demeaning.
"There are very important issues at stake that the Prime Minister and First Minister were discussing yesterday.
"The union between England and Scotland is very important, the United Kingdom is very incredibly important and I think that's what should be focused on in terms of their meeting - not a picture of their legs."
In a BBC radio discussion of the front page, Catherine Mayer (co-founder of the Women's Equality Party, said that it was "laughable and ridiculous" to present two government figureheads in such a way. Continuing:
"This isn't treating women as professionals: this is treating two national leaders as unlikely sex symbols.
"It's precisely meant to diminish their power."
In response to the negative feedback from public figure and the general public, the newspaper attempted to minimize the damage by adding, "Sarah Vine's light-hearted verdict on the big show down" to the article. The action did little to appease its critics.
The Scottish edition of the paper had the alternative headline: "Oh so frosty! Secrets of Nicola and PM's talk-in”; giving the two women and their topic of discussion, a headline more befitting the sobriety of the occasion.