» Monday, February 2, 2004


Asked if the Prime Minister would follow President Bush's example and announce an inquiry on Iraqi WMD, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) acknowledged that there were valid questions about this issue but he was unable to provide any details about the announcement that would be made. Asked if it might be made today, the PMOS said he couldn't rule out the possibility. The announcement would be ready when it was ready. Asked if it might coincide with the Prime Minister's appearance before the Liaison Committee tomorrow, the PMOS said that the announcement was not being delayed deliberately to coincide with the Liaison Committee hearing. We would make the announcement when we were ready to do so. Asked if the announcement would be made directly to the House, the PMOS said that we wanted to try to do it either as a written or oral statement to the House. Asked the point of a written statement when there were obviously going to be follow up questions which MPs would want to ask, the PMOS said that, in our view, the detail of the format was secondary to the fact that we wanted to get it out as quickly as possible. He pointed out that there would be several opportunities this week for people to ask questions about it. Asked why he was being so vague, the PMOS said that there were some details that had yet to be tied down. Providing further information would mean having to get into the specifics of the announcement, which he was reluctant to do.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)


Asked to confirm reports that the Prime Minister had said in a conversation last Thursday that he hoped the fallout at the BBC following the Hutton Report would not go as far as Greg Dyke's resignation, the PMOS said he didn't have a clue who the source of the report might be and he wasn't going to comment on pure speculation.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Sustainable Communities Plan

The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) advised journalists that the Deputy Prime Minister was in Manchester today to launch the Sustainable Communities Plan. The report, Making It Happen - The Northern Way, outlined plans to work closely with regional development agencies and regional planning bodies to quicken the pace of growth and development in cities such as Sheffield, Newcastle, Liverpool and Leeds. The package included: £69m over two years to revive the housing market in Newcastle and Gateshead; £86m over two years to revive the housing market in Merseyside; working with three northern regional development agencies to develop the idea of a Northern Way which exploited existing inter-regional economic and transport corridors in the North.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)


Responding to media reports about WMD in Iraq over the weekend, the PMOS said that the difference between last week and this week was the fact that the Hutton Report, like the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) report and the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) report, had cleared the Government of allegations of having politically interfered with, falsified or hyped the intelligence on WMD. That allowed us to address - hopefully in a more rational way and in a more rational context - the perfectly valid questions that people had asked about WMD. While David Kay's interim report from the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) had found evidence of WMD programmes and concealment activities, it was equally true, as the Prime Minister had acknowledged in his Observer interview a week ago, that we had yet to find WMD in Iraq. We had also been talking with the American Administration and were keeping in close touch with their thinking on how to approach this issue. Clearly, the US Administration was coming close to announcing what it intended to do to address the questions. In the same way, we were also coming close to announcing how we would approach them, but we would want, first of all, to make that announcement to Parliament. The PMOS said that he was unable to say at this point whether that was going to be today or later than that. Once we were able to confirm when it would be, we would let people know. The announcement would be made as soon as was practicable.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

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