Leveson Report: David Cameron faces defeat in press-regulation vote despite attempts to strike a deal with Nick Clegg

 

David Cameron is staring a heavy Commons defeat in the face after last-ditch attempts to secure a compromise on press regulation stalled tonight.

The Prime Minister made a personal appeal to his deputy, Nick Clegg, to break off the temporary alliance he has formed with Ed Miliband. The Liberal Democrat and Labour leaders want a regulator underpinned by statute. But Labour sources claimed tonight that his appeal had failed and the Liberal Democrat-Labour coalition, boosted by some backbench Conservatives, should have the numbers to defeat the Prime Minister.

Both sides agree that there should be a new press regulator overseen by a board governed by a Royal Charter signed by the Queen, but they have been arguing ferociously over whether the charter should be backed by legislation, how much power it should give to regulator, and whether the newspaper industry should be able to veto the appointment of a regulator they regard as hostile to their interests.

A senior Labour source said: “We are in lock-step with the Lib Dems on this. Ed Miliband spoke to Nick Clegg twice before Nick spoke to David Cameron and once after. We are clear we are not going to accept their Royal Charter. Any agreement must be on the basis of our Royal Charter.”

This leaves Mr Cameron facing the combined opposition of Labour and the Liberal Democrats, with more than 20 of his own MPs thought likely to rebel, giving Ed Miliband a clear Commons majority to push through his version of the Royal Charter, which is closer than Mr Cameron’s to the recommendations that emerged from the inquiry into the press headed by Lord Justice Leveson.

A senior Tory said tonight: “We are continuing discussion to try to secure agreement.”

Earlier in the day, there were hints from both sides that a last-minute agreement might be within reach. “There’s an opportunity to bring people together,” the Chancellor, George Osborne, told the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme. “The big decision, which is … to have a Royal Charter has been taken and the other parties have conceded that, so now we’re into other issues. The key thing here is a press law that works.”

Labour’s deputy leader, Harriet Harman, also hinted at a possible deal. “We’ve always said we would like to reach agreement and actually we could then come to the House of Commons with an agreed position and say ‘yes, this is what we want,” she told the Sky News Murnaghan programme. “There are just a few issues that remain between us, but they are quite important ones.”

Simon Hughes, the Liberal Democrat deputy leader, made it clear on the same programme that the anti-government has the votes to carry the Commons. “On our side of the argument there are Conservatives – up to 60 at the maximum but probably 20 core people. There are Irish parties, nationalist parties, the Green Party, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and possibly some Tories – now that’s quite a big coalition,” he said.

When David Cameron walked out of talks with the other parties, he said that if they passed a law that he opposed, it would be overturned in the next Parliament if the Conservatives secure a majority – but Mr Hughes’s figures beg the question of whether that threat could be effective.

Potential Tory rebels were given open encouragement yesterday by a former party chairman. Norman Fowler, a Cabinet minister under Margaret Thatcher and John Major, who argued that there should have been a free vote on an issue that affects press freedom. “There may be a last-minute compromise, but if I was still a Conservative MP I would be voting against my party,” he said.

J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, also called on MPs to oppose the government. “I believed David Cameron when he said that he would implement Leveson’s recommendations ‘unless they were bonkers’,” she said.

“I did not see how he could back away, with honour, from words so bold and unequivocal. Well, he has backed away, and I am one among many who feel they have been hung out to dry. I am merely one among many turning their eyes towards Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg and hoping that they have the courage to do what Cameron promised, but which he failed to deliver.

But the Tory MP Douglas Carswell, a frequent rebel, described statutory regulation as “unworkable”, though he added: “A small part of me wants it to go through so we can see the utter balls up that follows.”

Press reform: the sticking points

Where the two sides agree:

Self regulation of the press, through the much criticised Press Complaints Commission will end, and an independent regulator will have much tougher powers to penalise bad behaviour. The regulator will be appointed and overseen by a board governed by Royal Charter, whose wording cannot be altered unless the leaders of the three main parties and two thirds of MPs agree

Where they disagree:

David Cameron has a draft Royal Charter under which the choice of a regulator would have to be unanimous, rather than by majority vote, giving representatives of the newspaper industry a veto. The regulator would not have the same power to order newspaper where to place corrections and apologies as in the Miliband-Clegg version of the Charter, and Cameron does not think it necessary to pass a law to underpin the Charter.

Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Life and Style
A small bag of the drug Ecstasy
Health
Life and Style
Floral-print swim shorts, £26, by Topman, topman.com; sunglasses, £215, by Paul Smith, mpaulsmith.co.uk
FashionBag yourself the perfect pair
News
news
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Extras
indybest
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Data Analytics Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading organisation...

Accountant / Assistant Management Accountant

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an Assistant Management Ac...

Data Scientist

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A data analytics are currently looking t...

Insight Analyst Vacancy - Leading Marketing Agency

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency have won a fe...

Day In a Page

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup