As teams in secure rooms in Downing Street pore over the half dozen copies of the Leveson report, which arrived this morning, the Liberal Democrats are already starting to work out what they’ll need to do if David Cameron and Nick Clegg find they cannot agree on the government’s response. The Lib Dems have approached the Speaker to find out whether there is a possibility that Nick Clegg could give his own separate statement following Cameron’s own response in the Commons tomorrow afternoon. Sources say they hope that this is an unlikely scenario, but add that ‘he would like to be able to make his position clear in Parliament’ if he does take a different stance.
Meanwhile, Ed Miliband kept his Leveson powder well and truly dry for PMQs today, simply telling the Chamber that he hoped the parties would be able to work together on the next step for the press. Instead, the pressure came from members of David Cameron’s own party, with Tory MPs asking a series of questions about the press. But Cameron was careful not to give anything away, repeating his previous sentiments by telling Henry Smith that ‘the status quo I would argue does not just need updating, the status quo is unacceptable and needs to change’.
One interesting point to note is that for all the warm words from the PM in the Chamber about cross-party co-operation on Leveson, his spokesman told journalists after PMQs that he did not expect Cameron to ‘hold extensive talks’ with Ed Miliband before giving his statement to the House. But this is a bit strange if the parties do genuinely want to co-operate: what if Labour fundamentally disagrees with what the Prime Minister says? His statement is being described by Downing Street as the ‘government’s response’, which means that if Labour doesn’t agree with it, that cross-party co-operation could be a little difficult to sustain.
Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.