What is really at issue is the contradiction at the heart of the oxymoron that dogged the Leveson inquiry: “independent self-regulation”. The intense political discussions have been less about statute than about the difficulty of constructing a regulatory system that can be genuinely independent of editors without impinging on their freedom to go about their public mission to hold power to account.
I understand that the prime minister, and even editors, might well have been relaxed about accepting the famous “dab of statute”. Of much greater concern, however, are the exact arrangements involved in running a new system.
Essentially, the fear of many editors is that they would lose control of the regulator to people outside the industry. They therefore wish to have a veto on who sits in judgment on their activities and even over the writing of a new ethical code.