Rishi Sunak Caves In To Tory Rebels Over Online Harms Bill In Latest Climbdown

The prime minister has folded following another backbench rebellion by his MPs.
Rishi Sunak had come under fire again from his own MPs.
Rishi Sunak had come under fire again from his own MPs.
Andrew Milligan via PA Wire/PA Images

Rishi Sunak has performed yet another U-turn after he caved in to Tory rebels over the government’s online harms bill.

The prime minister has agreed that social media bosses could face jail over harmful content posted on their platforms after more than 50 Conservative backbenchers backed an amendment demanding the change.

The government had been concerned that the move would put tech firms off investing in the UK.

But Sunak was facing an embarrassing Commons defeat over the issue if he had not shifted his position.

Following talks with culture secretary Michelle Donelan, the rebels dropped the amendment, which will be brought back in the House of Lords “in a more workable format” by the government.

It is the third time the PM has been forced into a humiliating climbdown in the face of pressure from his own MPs.

He has already ditched plans to make it easier to build new homes and dropped his opposition to new onshore wind farms.

Ian Russell, the father of schoolgirl Molly Russell, who killed herself after viewing harmful material on social media, said the threat of imprisonment is “the only thing” that will make the bosses “put safety near the top of their agenda”.

“I think that’s a really important thing in terms of changing the corporate culture at these platforms,” he told BBC’s Newsnight.


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