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Labour and Tories both claim victory over 'press deal'

Labour leader Ed Miliband and Prime Minister David Cameron. Photo: PA Wire

Labour says this is just the sort of legal under-pinning they were looking for.

The Conservatives say that no such press law will exist.

Labour say they got what they want.

So too the Conservatives.

They are, remarkably, talking about the same deal.

But they are also spinning like mad on the head of a pin to make it look like the concessions came from the other side.

What is clear is that David Cameron's decision on Thursday to pull out of cross party talks - concluding that a deal simply couldn't be found - has forced this issue to a head. And quickly.

What is also clear is that the Prime Minister was facing defeat in the Commons tonight from a new coalition on press standards - one made up of Labour and the Liberal Democrats. And he moved his position.

The big questions is this: when is a law on press standards not a law on press standards?

Here is the reason why both sides can claim victory this morning (and I should caution the deal still hasn't been signed off completely):

The "law" will come in the form of an amendment to a piece of legislation in the House of Lords.

It will state that Royal Charters (of the kind being proposed to set up the new press regulator) cannot be amended unless the charter itself says it can. So no mention of the press. No "press law".

But the Royal Charter will state that its terms can be altered if consent were granted by two-thirds of MPs in the Commons and two-thirds of the House of Lords. So parliamentary oversight of a sort - which is what those who backed Lord Justice Leveson's proposals were seeking.

Full details will be announced by the Prime Minister this afternoon. We await the verdict from the newspaper bosses themselves.

There was compromise on both sides.

But it seems David Cameron had a lot to lose from a potential defeat (his authority, victim criticism, accusations he was cosying up to the press barons) and he has given ground on the "dab" of statute to which he had been so opposed.

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