Leveson beckons: Will Miliband and Clegg team up against Cameron?

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Looking on: Could Clegg and Cameron be heading for the ultimate split?
Looking on: Could Clegg and Cameron be heading for the ultimate split?

There were suspicions of a secret deal between Liberal Democrats and Labour today, after David Cameron was warned he would not necessarily speak for the government over the Leveson report.

Just days before the report's publication, Liberal Democrats briefed journalists to insist Cameron's response to the report may just represent the Conservative view if the two parties cannot come to an agreement.

The comments raise the prospect of a Commons defeat for Cameron if Labour forces a vote.

If Cameron rejects statutory regulation he would face an alliance of Liberal Democrats and Labour MPs, who would be able to win a clear majority in the Commons with the 70 or so Tory MPs who have already expressed support for the idea.


A division over Leveson would also constitute one of the most serious splits in the coalition.

Nick Clegg and Cameron will see the report Wednesday morning, 24 hours before its official publication. They will discuss the proposals in an expanded 'quad' meeting which will include George Osborne, Danny Alexander, Theresa May, Vince Cable and culture secretary Maria Miller.

It is not known if Michael Gove, Cabinet's cheerleader for self-regulation, will be there.

Downing Street is sticking to its line that it would be absurd to comment on a report which does not yet exist, but Cabinet-level interviews usually suggest which way individuals will go when the report comes.

William Hague, for instance, refused to comment on the report over the weekend, but admitted he would "err on the side of freedom".

Labour and the Liberal Democrats, on the other hand, have said they are prepared to go along with Leveson's suggestions, provided they are not unacceptably draconian.

Cameron is under extraordinary pressure from the press to oppose any regulatory body with a statutory underpinning, prompting speculation he may opt for a final shot at self-regulation, probably with a beefed-up arbitration arm.

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