Leveson Live

David Cameron prepares to defy Commons

 

David Cameron will defy the House of Commons if, as expected, it votes in favour of the new law to underpin independent regulation of the press recommended by Lord Justice Leveson.

Allies of the Prime Minister made clear he was unlikely to drop his opposition to a statutory approach even if a majority of MPs vote in favour of one. Labour will force a Commons vote on the Leveson Report by the end of January.

The prospect of an embarrassing defeat increased when, in an inprecedented move, Nick Clegg made his own Commons statement backing a legislative approach immediately after Mr Cameron had opposed this key Leveson proposal.

With Labour and more than 70 Conservative MPs backing Lord Justice Leveson’s call for a system of press regulation backed by statute, Mr Cameron appears to be heading for a Commons defeat. He may allow Tory MPs a free vote in an attempt to take some of the heat out of the backbench rebellion against his position.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said Mr Cameron would “take account” of Parliament’s view. Privately, aides said a vote in favour of the Leveson blueprint would “not be binding”, adding: “Labour does not have the power to bring in legislation.”

Mr Cameron, Mr Clegg and Ed Miliband began all-party talks on the Leveson Report at a 30-minute meeting. The Prime Minister said he had not entirely ruled out legislation. He agreed that the Department of Culture, Media and Sport would draft a Bill to implement Leveson - which he hopes might persuade Mr Clegg to drop his support for the Inquiry’s recommendations.

A Downing Street source said after the talks: “The PM’s position has not moved an inch. He has deep misgivings about statutory regulation. The exercise of drawing up a Bill will demonstrate how complicated it would be to introduce press laws. We have done some similar work over the past few weeks to look at what clauses might look like, and they always end up being more complicated and far reaching than first thought.”

Labour and the Conservatives accused each other of “political posturing” over the report. A Labour source said: “We have the prospect of the Prime Minister ignoring the judge he appointed and the will of Parliament. If he is so determined to stay in favour with the sections of the press that caused the problem, that is his choice, but it won’t look good.”

Although Mr Clegg’s mind is not closed, he is unlikely to change his view that Lord Justice Leveson’s proposals are “proportionate and workable”.

Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg were conciliatory in the way they handled the Coalition’s most visible split since its formation. The die was already cast when the Coalition Committee of ministers from both parties met in the Cabinet Room this morning. Although the discussion was good-natured, there was no attempt to reach a compromise. Mr Clegg had already decided that, with all-party talks looming, it was right for him to set out his different position to Mr Cameron in public.

In his Commons statement, Mr Cameron argued that the Government should think very carefully before it “crossed the Rubicon” by creating the first press law for hundreds of years, about which he had “serious concerns and misgivings”. He added: “The danger is that this would create a vehicle for politicians, whether today or some time in the future, to impose regulation and obligations on the press.”

The Prime Minister insisted he endorsed Lord Justice Leveson’s key aims for an independent regulator for the press, but believed they could be introduced without statutory backing. He said the status quo was not an option. But he criticised Labour for rushing to support all the Leveson proposals, warning that watering down the protection given to newspapers under the Data Protection Act could inhibit investigative journalism.

Admitting his Commons statement was “unusual,” Mr Clegg told MPs: “Changing the law is the only way to give us all the assurance that the new regulator isn’t just independent for a few months or years but is independent for good.” He described the Leveson plan as “a voluntary system based on incentives with a guarantee of proper standards. It is not illiberal state regulation.”

Mr Miliband endorsed the full Leveson proposals as “measured, reasonable and proportionate”, and said legislation should be enacted in the Parliamentary session starting next May. “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make change the public can trust. There can be no more last chance saloons,” he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: Financial Controller

£45 - £55k DOE: Guru Careers: A Financial Controller is required to join a suc...

Guru Careers: Product Manager / Product Marketing Manager / Product Owner

COMPETITIVE: Guru Careers: A Product Manager / Product Owner is required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Online Customer Service Advisor

£13000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A chance to work for an extreme...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager - Media Sales - £36,000 OTE

£28000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award-winning company, whi...

Day In a Page

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals
Showdown by Shirley Jackson: A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic

Showdown, by Shirley Jackson

A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic
10 best DSLRs

Be sharp! 10 best DSLRs

Up your photography game with a versatile, powerful machine
Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash