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MPs yet to decide on press vote
UNCERTAINTY hangs over the voting intentions of Oxford’s two MPs ahead of today’s potential Parliamentary vote on press regulation.
Oxford East Labour MP Andrew Smith said MPs were “standing on shifting sand” as party leaders last night bid to find common ground.
And Oxford West and Abingdon Conservative MP Nicola Blackwood - one of a group of Tory MPs who have previously pushed for tougher press regulation than the Prime Minister originally indicated - said she had not made up her mind on how she would vote.
This morning it appeared the three parties were close to an agreement that would mean there was no need for the vote this evening. Labour's Harriet Harman said a deal was done but a Downing Street source said agreement was close but not yet done.
Prime Minister and Witney MP David Cameronhas piously said he wanted a Royal Charter on regulation of the press without laws providing statutory underpinning.
But Labour and the Liberal Democrats say statutory legislation – as recommended by the inquiry into the press by Lord Leveson – is needed to prevent a repeat of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.
Mr Smith said last night: “We’re still standing on shifting sand here. It’s not absolutely clear what we’re going to be voting on.
“My basic position is that I support the Leveson recommendations and that’s how I’m inclined to vote.
“However, if an agreement can be reached whereby this proposed Royal Charter, with just a little bit of statutory back-up whereby it can’t be changed without a vote in Parliament, I would support that.”
Ms Blackwood said that she wanted to listen to the debate in the House of Commons today and then make up her mind on how to vote.
She said: “Truthfully, I am going to sit in and listen and make a decision on the day, although I’m likely to support the Royal Charter [without statutory underpinning].”
Ms Blackwood has previously written in the Oxford Mail about the need for independent regulation of the press.
Last night the two coalition parties were still trying to thrash out a deal after official negotiations were called off last week by Mr Cameron.
Mr Osborne told BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show yesterday that a deal could still be reached before MPs are called to vote this evening.