David Cameron tried his best to look interested during a lengthy business Q&A just now at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange; but his mind is undoubtedly elsewhere, several thousand miles to the north, where the phone hacking saga is yielding new twists and turns by the hour.
But he looked a bit more alert when Jason Groves of the Daily Mail – alluding to Ed Miliband’s comments this morning – asked whether he was considering his position as prime minister.
The answer was rather rambling and gave neither a negative or affirmative. Cameron must realise that “prime minister refuses to quit” would be a gift for the press.
Instead he gave this reply (note the use of the phrase ‘potential police corruption‘):
David Cameron said:
The British government, in terms of the phone hacking scandal, has taken all of the appropriate actions. we have set up a judicial inquiry, we have made sure there is a properly funded police investigation. We have published huge amounts of information about any meetings between politicians and senior media executives. So i think we have given a very clear answer. Parliament is going to come back on Wednesday, I’m going to make a big statement updating what we are doing with the judicial inquiry. I will be able to answer any of the questions that have come up in the last couple of days. I feel I have been out there in Parliament, in press conferences fully answering the questions, fully transparent, very clear about what needs to be done – making sure that Britain gets to the bottom of what has been a terrible episode in terms of what newpapers have done, hacking into private data. And also some very big questions about potential police corruption. we need to get to the bottom of those.
James Chapman, the Mail’s political editor, has pointed out that the odds of David Cameron quitting the cabinet first are now (at 12-1) shorter than those of Caroline Spelman (at 16-1). Here are the Ladbrokes odds.