The latest issue of Charlie Hebdo goes on sale tomorrow, with around 1,000 copies expected to be available in the UK. Some people have decided that buying it shows ils sont Charlie, but both David Cameron and Nick Clegg don’t appear to be joining the rush for copies.
The Deputy Prime Minister told the Today programme that ‘I’m not sure I’m going to buy it’, while the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said ‘I’m not sure he necessarily will, but I’m sure that he will see the image that I think people are understandably asking me about today. Whether he will buy a copy, I confess I’m not sure’.
Whether or not they buy the magazine is of course far less relevant than whether they support the right of those publications to print whatever they like without fear of death or state meddling. And on that point, the spokesman was at pains to make clear that Cameron ‘wholeheartedly’ defends the rights of editors to publish such material, saying:
‘Well, the point here is I think is one he’s made in interviews that he did in Paris on Sunday, which is that what he wholeheartedly defends is the right of editors to make their own editorial decisions, and the importance of defending that, that is at the heart of freedom of the press and freedom of expression, and he has always held that view.’
He added that the Prime Minister ‘supports the rights of editors whoever they are to make their own – what newspapers print is a matter for newspapers and their editors, so he absolutely, that is a very, very important principle that he absolutely and unequivocally defends. It is the defence of the principle of freedom of the press’.
The Home Secretary also gave an update to the Cabinet this morning about the discussions that she has been having following the attacks in terms of UK preparedness. David Cameron did note the comments he had already made about future legislation, but there was no debate about that, his spokesman said, because the different positions on legislation are already well-known. ‘There was no discussion about data comms,’ he said.