Andy Coulson at Leveson: 10 things we learned

Including, that he retained £40,000 of News Corporation shares.

1. He retained News Corporation shares worth £40,000 throughout his time at Downing Street but was "never asked about any share or stock holdings". Coulson claimed this was because he wasn't involved "in any commercial issues". In retrospect, he wishes he had "paid more attention" to the issue.

2. In a phone conversation confirming his appointment as the Conservatives' director of communications, Coulson told David Cameron that he "knew nothing" about the phone-hacking committed by News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.

3. Cameron sought no assurances after the Guardian reported in 2009 that phone-hacking was more widespread than News International claimed.

4. He "may" have had access to top-secret state material, despite only having low-level clearance.

5. The Guardian suggested to him that it was "possible" that the paper would endorse the Conservatives at the 2010 general election. Coulson's witness statement revealed: "At a drinks reception in David Cameron's office a Guardian executive told me not to 'write off' the idea of a Guardian endorsement."

6. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown offered their "commiserations" when he resigned as editor of the News of the World. Coulson could not recall whether David Cameron did.

7. He was a "little disappointed" by the manner of the Sun's endorsement of the Conservatives. "I felt it was more a rejection of Labour than a positive endorsement of us. If I'd had half the influence on The Sun that some claim, that front page would have looked very different." (The tabloid's headline was "Labour's lost it".)

8. Gordon Brown told him in 2006 that he had it "on very good authority" that Rupert Murdoch would appoint Coulson as editor of the Sun when Rebekah Brooks became chief executive of News International (Brooks's promotion was eventually announced in June 2009, more than two years after Coulson had resigned as editor of the News of the World.) Coulson interpreted this an attempt by Brown to "impress on me his closeness to Rupert Murdoch."

9. The other frontrunner to become Downing Street director of communications was Guto Harri, who went on to become Boris Johnson's Director of Communications. Harri has now left Johnson's administration and is rumoured to have accepted a senior press role at News International.

10. He was not involved in "any way, shape or form" in the handling of News Corp's bid for full control of BSkyB.

Bonus: He sat between Rupert Murdoch and Whoopi Goldberg at a post-election dinner in New York. "I spent most of my time at the table talking to her."

Former News of the World editor and Downing Street communications chief, Andy Coulson, leaves his home in London earlier today. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Photo: Getty
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What Jeremy Corbyn gets right about the single market

Technically, you can be outside the EU but inside the single market. Philosophically, you're still in the EU. 

I’ve been trying to work out what bothers me about the response to Jeremy Corbyn’s interview on the Andrew Marr programme.

What bothers me about Corbyn’s interview is obvious: the use of the phrase “wholesale importation” to describe people coming from Eastern Europe to the United Kingdom makes them sound like boxes of sugar rather than people. Adding to that, by suggesting that this “importation” had “destroy[ed] conditions”, rather than laying the blame on Britain’s under-enforced and under-regulated labour market, his words were more appropriate to a politician who believes that immigrants are objects to be scapegoated, not people to be served. (Though perhaps that is appropriate for the leader of the Labour Party if recent history is any guide.)

But I’m bothered, too, by the reaction to another part of his interview, in which the Labour leader said that Britain must leave the single market as it leaves the European Union. The response to this, which is technically correct, has been to attack Corbyn as Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland are members of the single market but not the European Union.

In my view, leaving the single market will make Britain poorer in the short and long term, will immediately render much of Labour’s 2017 manifesto moot and will, in the long run, be a far bigger victory for right-wing politics than any mere election. Corbyn’s view, that the benefits of freeing a British government from the rules of the single market will outweigh the costs, doesn’t seem very likely to me. So why do I feel so uneasy about the claim that you can be a member of the single market and not the European Union?

I think it’s because the difficult truth is that these countries are, de facto, in the European Union in any meaningful sense. By any estimation, the three pillars of Britain’s “Out” vote were, firstly, control over Britain’s borders, aka the end of the free movement of people, secondly, more money for the public realm aka £350m a week for the NHS, and thirdly control over Britain’s own laws. It’s hard to see how, if the United Kingdom continues to be subject to the free movement of people, continues to pay large sums towards the European Union, and continues to have its laws set elsewhere, we have “honoured the referendum result”.

None of which changes my view that leaving the single market would be a catastrophe for the United Kingdom. But retaining Britain’s single market membership starts with making the argument for single market membership, not hiding behind rhetorical tricks about whether or not single market membership was on the ballot last June, when it quite clearly was. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.