» Wednesday, December 15, 2004

David Blunkett

Asked if the Prime Mininster had made any plans to meet David Blunkett over the next 24 hours, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that he did not brief on ministerial meetings.

Asked if the Evening Standard’s splash about 6 Cabinet Ministers’ views about David Blunkett’s future was true, the PMOS replied that he would not comment on speculation. He referred people to what the Deputy Prime Minister had said, which was that David Blunkett had apologised, and an apology had been accepted.

Asked how important an asset to the Government did the Prime Minister consider the Home Secretary to be, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister had put his view about the work of the Home Secretary on the record on many occasions, as he had done about other Cabinet colleagues as well.

Asked how important David Blunkett’s perceived special gift in communicating to the voters was, the PMOS replied that what was important was the work the Home Secretary was doing, by bringing forward the agenda that met people’s concerns. In the same way, the Prime Minister had put on the record his appreciation of other Cabinet colleagues as well.

Asked if it was therefore only the Home Secretary’s work that got primacy, rather than any individual personality, the PMOS said as always, it was not only the work, but also the way in which people did the work.

Asked if David Blunkett was irreplaceable, the PMOS said in terms of the Home Secretary’s work, the Prime Minister had placed on record his appreciation, and therefore if this was another way of asking a certain kind of question, the questioner knew the answer.

Asked if David Blunkett was indispensable, the PMOS said he thought it was a blunter way of asking the same question!

Asked if the Prime Minister still had complete confidence in the Home Secretary, the PMOS said he had answered that question during the earlier lobby.

Asked if the Prime Minister had a copy of Stephen Pollard’s biography, or did he take the one offered to him by Michael Howard during PMQs, the PMOS he was not aware whether he had a copy or not.

Asked if the situation was descending into ‘farce’ and how much longer could it continue for, the PMOS said what was important was a process had been set up, and it should be allowed to work its way through properly. The PMOS reminded journalists that the Home Secretary wanted the process to be set up, and therefore it should be allowed to follow its natural course.

Asked when people might find out when Sir Alan Budd was going to say anything about the inquiry, the PMOS said when Sir Alan was ready to let it be known. The PMOS repeated that he had said consistently for two days that the report was not going to be published this week.

Asked if the Prime Minister thought it was only the Budd Inquiry that had any relevance on David Blunkett’s future, the PMOS relied that he had already described earlier in the week that David Blunkett’s comments were unfortunate. However, David Blunkett had apologised, and they had been accepted. There were allegations, and those allegations were being investigated.

Asked if in terms of the very serious allegations whether there was a chance that a Minister could be forced to resign over wrongdoing, and whether it was especially the one allegation that was the problem, the PMOS replied that Sir Alan Budd had been asked to investigate allegations, and was carrying out the investigation. The PMOS repeated his earlier comments during the morning lobby that if Sir Alan believed that other matters were relevant to the inquiry, then he would investigate those as well.

Asked if it was possible if Sir Alan felt he needed more time that that he may report when the House was in recess or the Prime Minister was not available, the PMOS repeated that we did not want to say anything that could pressurise Sir Alan in terms of timings, content or the way in which he carried out the inquiry. The PMOS would keep to that rule. Sir Alan was a very experienced former civil servant and was aware of the conventions, but it was his decision about the timing.

Asked if the Prime Minister accepted Bob Marshall Andrew’s point that his friendship with David Blunkett was irrelevant when it came to agreeing his fitness for office, the PMOS said he refused to comment on a backbencher’s views, as he had done earlier on too.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Search for related news

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