» Tuesday, September 14, 2004

PM/Lord Bragg

Asked about Lord Bragg's comment on the lunchtime news today regarding the Prime Minister's supposed intention to resign in the summer, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that it had taken us by surprise as much as anyone else. He had nothing to add to what had already said about the matter when the story had first been reported in July. Asked if the Prime Minister stood by his reply to a question in his July press conference in which he had said that he had never had any thoughts about moving on, the PMOS said yes. Asked if the Prime Minister believed that Lord Bragg had been trying to be helpful, the PMOS said that he hadn't asked the Prime Minister for his thoughts on this matter and he had no intention of doing so. Asked how well informed Lord Bragg was, the PMOS said that he wasn't a spokesman for Lord Bragg. He didn't know why the comment had been made. Asked to concede that Lord Bragg was a member of the Prime Minister's social circle, the PMOS said that he had absolutely no intention of commenting on the friendships - or otherwise - of the Prime Minister in any way, shape or form. Asked if he would accept that it was difficult to know where to draw the line in terms of the Prime Minister's right to privacy when a public figure, like Lord Bragg, was willing to talk openly about their friendship, the PMOS repeated that Lord Bragg's remarks had come as a surprise to us. We were not going to comment on them.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comment (1)


Asked for a reaction to today's bomb attack in Iraq, the PMOS said that as we had made clear consistently from the outset, we recognised that such attacks would be stepped up in this period as terrorists tried to disrupt Iraq's transition to a democracy. Prime Minister Allawi, who was leading the Iraqi Government and its response to the terrorism, had underlined his determination not to allow that transition to be thrown off course. That was a position which we fully supported. The PMOS added that Prime Minister Allawi was due to visit the UK shortly and journalists would be given an opportunity to hear his views for themselves.

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

Fox Hunting

Asked if the two-year delay to introducing a ban on fox hunting was the Government's final word on the matter, the PMOS said that amendments to the Bill were a matter for individual MPs. He reminded journalists that there would be a free vote on both the substantive motion and the amendment.

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

Northern Ireland

Asked if the discovery of another listening device in an office belonging to Sinn Fein would have an impact on the talks at Leeds Castle which were due to begin on Thursday, the PMOS said that it wasn't our practice to comment on such matters. The Leeds Castle talks related to issues which the Prime Minister had identified two years ago, namely decommissioning, an end to paramilitarism and a complete commitment to power-sharing in that environment.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comments (2)

PM’s Environment Speech

The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) briefed journalists on the Prime Minister's speech on the environment which he was due to deliver at an event this evening. He said that the speech would refer to some of the measures which we had already taken - and would continue to take - on the domestic front. However, the Prime Minister would not go into so much detail partly because it would be the focus of DEFRA's five year plan which was due to be published later this year, but also because the main rationale of today's speech was the Prime Minister's view that while "domestic action is important, a problem that is global in cause and scope can only be fully addressed through international agreement......It is hugely important that our efforts to stabilise the climate are based on global agreement". In trying to reach such a consensus, he would say that it was the richest countries which were the main contributors to the problem, but it was the poorest countries which suffered most from severe weather events, such as longer and hotter droughts and rising ocean levels. The onus, therefore, was on the former to solve the problem. That was why we had made climate change the focal point of our G8 Presidency next year, in addition to Africa. The Prime Minister would take the opportunity to outline three objectives this evening to tackle this problem. Firstly, to obtain an agreement on the basic science on climate change and the threat it posed. Such an agreement would be new and would provide the foundation for further action. Secondly, to obtain agreement on a process to identify the science and technology measures necessary to meet the threat. Thirdly, the involvement of nations beyond the G8, particularly China and India (but not exclusively them) who will also be crucial in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Given the different positions of the G8 nations on this issue, such an agreement would be a major advance - and in the Prime Minister's view it was achievable. As preparatory work for such a deal, he would also announce that, prior to the G8 meeting itself, we were proposing to hold an international scientific meeting at the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research in Exeter in February next year.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comment (1)

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