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Daily View: Met resignation and Cameron's future

Clare Spencer | 09:58 UK time, Monday, 18 July 2011

David Cameron, Sir Paul Stephenson


Commentators react to the resignation of Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson, asking what this means for the Prime Minister David Cameron.

The Guardian's editorial reads between the lines of Sir Paul's resignation speech to find a message for David Cameron:

"Sir Paul's long resignation statement protested his innocence in all respects. But one crucial passage effectively pointed the finger at Downing Street, drawing an comparison between Mr Cameron's hiring of Andy Coulson and his own recruitment of his deputy. The point was implicit, but widely understood: 'I'll take responsibility: what about you?' And thus a crisis which, for a long time, was perceived as a relatively contained issue of journalistic ethics, started lapping at the door of the prime minister himself."

Similarly, The Telegraph's editorial says Sir Paul's resignation doesn't bode well for David Cameron:

"Far from easing the pressure on David Cameron, Sir Paul's departure increases it. For nearly a fortnight now, Downing Street has had to have information dragged from it about the closeness of the Prime Minister's relationship with News International and, in particular, Rebekah Brooks, who became the latest News International executive to be arrested yesterday.
"Ever since Mr Cameron made the fatal error of appointing Andy Coulson, the former News of the World editor, as his press spokesman, the waters of this murky affair have been lapping at his feet. They show no sign of receding. If anything, they are rising."

James Forsyth says in the Spectator that Sir Paul's resignation speech gave "plenty of political ammunition" to Labour:

"Yvette Cooper has already done a tour of the TV studio using this passage to make two political attacks on the Prime Minister. First, highlighting how Stephenson felt he couldn't give Cameron a full update on the matter because of Cameron's relationship with Coulson. Second, saying that if Stephenson has resigned because of his decision to hire a senior figure at the News of the World, then what about Cameron's decision to employ the editor who resigned over phone hacking."

Political blogger Iain Dale says David Cameron's resignation is looking more likely but wouldn't be fair:

"I can't believe I am even writing this, but it is no longer an impossibility to imagine this scandal bringing down the Prime Minister or even the government. OK, some of you reading this may think that last sentence is a deranged ranting, and you may be right. Indeed, I hope you are. But Sir Paul Stephenson launched a thinly veiled attack on David Cameron in his resignation statement and the Prime Minister is already on the ropes about the propriety of his relationship with Andy Coulson.
"The irony, of course, is that virtually everything we are talking about in this scandal happened under the last government, and yet it is this one which is getting it in the neck largely because of David Cameron's decision to appoint Andy Coulson."

In the Independent Mary Ann Sieghart doesn't go as far as to suggest David Cameron will resign, instead saying that the saga will not help him in the next election. However, she thinks Mr Cameron's relationship with Rebekah Brooks is more damaging than Sir Paul's resignation:

"Now that she has been arrested, the Prime Minister's cosy relationship with the former News International chief executive has become all the more embarrassing. That he should have brought her into his weekend social life as well as his professional life - even when his Government was making huge commercial decisions about her company - looks very bad. And some voters, who already suspect he is too privileged, too elitist, too concerned with his rich and powerful friends, will only have their prejudices confirmed."

The Times editorial says allegations against the police take the story up a notch:

"The public may be disgusted by illegal and immoral practices among tabloid journalists, and dismayed by the thought of politicians unbalanced by the urge to keep the favour of newspaper executives. At the point at which this sorry tale touches the police, however, it becomes frightening. Unless a huge amount of what has been alleged these past two weeks is sheer fiction, Britain's police are riven with corruption on an institutional scale. Journalists who bribe policemen are indicative of a flawed industry. Policemen who can be bribed are indicative of a flawed state."

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