It’s taken him a few weeks, but David Cameron is beginning to show signs of rising to the challenge phone hacking has posed to him him and his government.
In remarkably noisy and at time angry exchanges in the Commons during PMQs, the prime minister showed he has now found an answer for most of Labour’s questions. These include:
- The public inquiry. All three parties now agree on this, and Cameron started the ball rolling today, announcing Lord Justice Leveson to head it.
- Rebekah Brooks’ position. Saying he would have accepted her resignation is not the same as calling for her head, but it is as close as Cameron can feasibly get.
- The BSkyB bid. Cameron still insts the legal processes have to be followed, but he now says he would like News Corp to drop the bid, telling them to “get their house in order”. To suggest Jeremy Hunt still has the freedom to accept the bid now seems unfeasible, but at least Cameron is on the side of public opinion.
- Media regulation. He says this should be “independent” rather than Ed Miliband’s preferred “self-regulation”. This coud even put him ahead of the Labour leader in terms of where the public is on the issue.
However, the prime minister is still shaky on Andy Coulson’s role. He was forced to admit today he had not been told by Ed Llewellyn, his chief of staff, or Steve Hilton, his strategy guru, about a warning from the Guardian that Coulson had hired private investigator Jonathan Rees, despite knowing Rees had been convicted of conspiring to frame an innocent woman.
He will not apologise for hiring Coulson, but did say that if he lied to the PM, not to mention police and a select committee of MPs, he should be prosecuted. If that does happen, even deeper questions will be asked about Cameron’s judgement.