Nick Clegg will make his own statement on Leveson in the Commons today after the Prime Minister has spoken. Party sources were saying yesterday that this would only happen if the two men disagreed on the government’s response to the report. The Lib Dems want to back the rapid creation of a statutory backstop for newspaper regulation, while David Cameron does not want to back any press law, at least for now.
This is probably the biggest clue we’ll get as to the content of the Leveson report before the embargo lifts at 1.30pm. But it doesn’t necessarily mean a big split over the outcome: the coalition cabinet committee will meet at noon to discuss the full response, and there may well be greater unity over this than initially appears. A Lib Dem source tells me: ‘We’re not talking about a massive coalition split and we do think its important that all party leaders talk about it.’
How Clegg plays this is, as James blogged yesterday, a key way of demonstrating that coalition can work between two parties that disagree on big issues. It will be important for the Deputy Prime Minister to prevent his statement being interpreted as a split similar to that over the House of Lords reform. In many ways, the highly unusual situation of having two representatives of the government speaking on a topic this important in the House is a result of the highly unusual nature of coalition government.
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