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The politics of Leveson are likely to rumble on and on

By Peter Hoskin
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Here is something that’s become clearer today: the Leveson Report will mean a tricky game of Parliamentary politics for David Cameron. There are — as a comparison of the letter signed by 42 Tory parliamentarians last night with the one signed by 42 Tory MPs a few weeks ago suggests — strong differences of opinion within his own party. And there are strong differences outside it, too. It’s emerged this afternoon that Nick Clegg is looking into making a separate statement to the House after Mr Cameron’s tomorrow, just in case the two men cannot agree on a unified Government response to Leveson’s recommendations. It may not come to that, but it’s another sign of how fissiparous this whole matter threatens to be.

All of which raises questions about Cameron’s statement tomorrow. If he does manage to produce a detailed Government (or even just Tory leadership) response to the Leveson Report, how will that square with the offer he made in PMQs to “work across party lines on this issue”? There is, after all, a good chance that Ed Miliband and the Labour party — let alone huge portions of the Tory party — would disagree with that response. Whereas if Cameron sticks to easy generalities, so that he doesn’t alienate the rest of Parliament, the question immediately changes to this: how long will it take for him to carve out a position that’s amenable to all, or at least to the majority?

In either case, I wouldn’t place money on a speedy resolution.

Update: The Spectator's James Forsyth has more here, including:

"I’m informed by someone involved in the coalition negotiations on the issue that the reason the Liberal Democrats want to be able to make their own statement on the Leveson Report is that they intend to back the rapid creation of a statutory back-stop for newspaper regulation. By contrast, I hear that Davud Cameron doesn’t want to back any press law, at least for now."

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