UK

Labour 'To Try And Halt BskyB Takeover', Could Have Lib Dem Support

09/07/2011 22:09 BST | Updated 08/09/2011 10:12 BST

Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Simon Hughes today indicated he would vote with Labour to try and halt News Corp's takeover of BSkyB until the criminal investigation into phone hacking and payments to police at the News of the World is over.

He told Sky News that he would "make clear" that there should be a postponement of the BSkyB merger until the police investigation finishes.

Labour will use Wednesday's Opposition Day debate to to propose the motion. The party believe that the assurances provided by News Corp and Rupert Murdoch are unreliable, and think that they might now have grounds upon which to try to halt the deal.

Party leader Ed Miliband this morning told the Andrew Marr Show: "I say this to the Prime Minister candidly: over the next 72 hours I hope he changes his position on this because I don't want to force this to a vote in the House of Commons. But I think he's got to understand that when the public have seen the disgusting revelations that we've seen this week, the idea that this organisation, which has engaged in these terrible practices should be allowed to take over BSkyB - to get that 100% stake - without that criminal investigation having been completed, and on the basis of assurances from that self-same organisation - frankly that just won't wash with the public."

With many MPs from all parties increasingly uneasy over Rupert Murdoch's News Corp increasing its share of the British media market, Labour hopes that it can marshall support from Liberal Democrats and even some Conservatives.

Perhaps sensing a chance to define a point of distinction between themselves and their Tory coalition partners, some Liberal Democrats have come out against the deal.

Late Saturday the Lib Dem MP Stephen Gilbert said that the government should not decide whether the deal should go ahead.

"This is not something that politicians should decide," Gilbert said. "It should be done by independent people."

Lib Dem peer Paddy Ashdown also joined calls for the deal to be halted, telling the Observer: "The public will be outraged and bewildered and trust in our politics will take yet another knock if this takeover goes ahead after what has happened... I think Jeremy Hunt or better still David Cameron should call in Rupert Murdoch and say that this bid is no longer welcome."