Labour vows to hand ‘weak’ Rishi Sunak first defeat over Online Safety Bill

Keir Starmer’s Labour party has vowed to hand “weak” Rishi Sunak his first Commons defeat if the prime minister does not agree to toughen up his Online Safety

Bill. Shadow culture secretary Lucy Powell told The Independent that Mr Sunak had failed to “read the room” by only threatening fines – rather than criminal liability – for

social media bosses if they fail to protect children from damaging content. Ms Powell said Labour will back an amendment signed by almost 50 Tory MPs to ensure social media

company directors face up to two years in jail if they fail to obey new restrictions. Labour support from the growing rebellion means Mr Sunak could be heading for his first

parliamentary defeat – although culture secretary Michelle Donelan has said she is “not ruling out” changes before Tuesday’s crucial vote. Ms Powell said giving criminal

liability was needed to “make those who are responsible for running these platforms sit up and take notice – because they might not otherwise”. The Labour frontbencher said

the Tory rebellion “gives us a real opportunity to change the bill”, adding: “A lot of MPs are trying to do the right thing. It may be [the government] concedes, but as things

stand there’s a very strong chance of the rebel amendment passing.” The latest Tory revolt follows U-turns from Mr Sunak over mandatory housebuilding targets and a ban on

onshore wind farms, which saw the PM accept rebel amendments signed by a few dozen of his backbenchers. One of the Tory MPs leading the rebellion over criminal liability in

the Online Safety Bill said the government had reached out to rebels over the weekend aimed at avoiding an embarrassing defeat in the Commons.