» Wednesday, February 4, 2004


Put to him that the Prime Minister's admission that he had not known that the claim of "45-minutes" referred only to Battlefield munitions, when he was making his speech in the House of Commons on the vote on whether or not to go to war, was an extraordinary admission, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said no. The secret intelligence report had not specified the particular delivery system to which the time of 45 minutes applied. Therefore there was no reason why the Prime Minister should have asked that question. Asked if the Prime Minister should then have qualified it since he didn't have a clue what he was talking about, the PMOS said it was not that he didn't know what he was talking about. The Prime Minister was relying on the information from the SIS which was very different from not having a clue. Put to him that the Prime Minister had left the House with the very strong impression that the 45-minute claim referred to more than Battlefield weapons, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister had not over-emphasised the 45-minute point in his speech at the time. Asked why the Prime Minister had chosen to raise it at all given its ambiguity, the PMOS repeated that the Prime Minster had not made a big point about it in the speech to the House on the 18th of March last year. In fact he had not mentioned it at all.

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

EU Accession Immigration

Asked to clarify what the Prime Minister had said when he referred to "withdrawing concessions" on immigration to the EU Accession countries, the PMOS made it clear that the Prime Minster was not talking about rescinding the right to work. We believed that the right to work was important to the UK, not least because of the skills shortages, for instance, which had been highlighted by the CBI earlier this week. What the Prime Minister, David Blunkett and Andrew Smith had been working on was action they could take to further tighten up procedures, such as the Habitual Residence Test for the 1st of May. That dealt with when people got benefits and so forth because we were not going to tolerate so-called "benefit-tourism". We would stress again however that this was a precautionary exercise, because the evidence suggested that the predicted flood of people coming here, which had been predicted whenever any enlargement has taken place in the past, wouldn't happen.

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

Butler Inquiry/Dr Jones

Asked if the Government had a response to comments made by Dr Brian Jones in the Independent this morning, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said he was surprised at the newspaper's own surprise at Dr Jones' remarks. He reminded journalists that Dr Jones had made much the same remarks on 3rd September 2003, as journalists would discover if they looked at news reports at that time. If journalists looked at the Independent itself on the 4th September 2003, it covered pretty much the same ground, including the conclusion that "yesterday's criticism from the Intelligence Community re-enforced the impression that the Hutton Inquiry had turned into quicksand for Downing Street". All that Dr Jones had said today had already been considered either by Lord Hutton or the ISC. Brian Jones was an acknowledged expert within his own particular field, but as Lord Hutton had heard, his concerns had been considered by his two superiors in the DIS, both of whom had given evidence, and both of whom were on the JIC, and they had not taken up his concerns. It should also be remembered that Dr Jones had not said that the 45-minute point should not have been included in the dossier, simply that it should have been expressed in a slightly different form of words.

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

Downing Street Says...

The unofficial site which lets you comment on the UK Prime Minister's official briefings. About us...


February 2004
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
« Jan   Mar »

Supported by


Disruptive Proactivity

Recent Briefings



Syndicate (RSS/XML)



Contact Sam Smith.

This site is powered by WordPress. Theme by Jag Singh