POLITICS

Tory MPs Vent Dismay At Leveson Compromise Deal

18/03/2013 14:49 GMT | Updated 18/03/2013 18:46 GMT

Conservative MPs have expressed their frustration at David Cameron's decision to reach a compromise deal on the Leveson Report that Labour argues includes the statutory underpinning of press regulation - something the prime minister had previously refused to implement.

Downing Street has insisted that the agreement reached on a new royal charter system is not "in any way" statutory underpinning.

However this interpretation is disputed by Labour who insist the proposed amendment that would be made to how royal charters work in order to stop ministers curtailing the freedom of the press in future is statutory.

Tories who had supported the prime minister's rejection of any form of statute as well as his decision to blow-up the cross-party talks on Friday in favour of a showdown Commons vote appeared dismayed.

Chatham & Aylesford MP Tracy Crouch Tweeted on Monday morning: "I hate going to bed a loyalist and then wake up a rebel."

Clacton MP Douglas Carswell also hit out at the change of heart. "At least we'll get the credit for taking a stand against state regulation of the press," he tweeted, adding. "Oops. Or not. Regulation + wrong side of press."

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And Sarah Wollaston, the Totnes MP, said it was "all very well for the party leaders to agree to a truce on leveson" but called for a free vote in the Commons on the plan.

Their frustration mirrors that of Tory MPs who have in the past gone out to bat for government policies on one day only to find they have been reversed the next.

In the wake of a series of Budget u-turns last year Conservative Nick De Bois warned the habit made Downing Street look incompetent.

"I think for backbenchers there's no question that if you are out there, defending a government policy, only to have it ripped away from you and changed, it does leave you somewhat frustrating," he told HuffPost UK.

Carswell, a fierce critic of any state involvement in the regulation of the press, said he found the proposals "shocking".

"I grew up in a central African country run by various dictators who controlled the newspapers. Perhaps that is why I find the idea of state regulation of the press in Britain so shocking," he wrote on his blog.

"A big part of me thinks that this is a disaster in the making. A small part of me hopes these proposals go through so we can see the utter balls up that follows."