Prime Minister in the US
Asked if there was any guidance on what was happening in Washington DC, the PMS (Prime Minister's Spokesman) said that she would not offer a running commentary from thousands of miles away especially when her colleagues out there were well able to brief on events and indeed there would be a press conference later this evening.
Asked why Her Majesty's Ambassador to Washington DC introduced Mrs Blair at an event last night, the PMS said that her understanding was that this was normal procedure for the Ambassador to introduce or accompany any prominent British citizen visiting Washington DC. Asked why the Ambassador was there if, as they had been told last week, that this was an entirely private visit, the PMS said she did not think that changed it at all. Asked if there had been any thought given in Downing Street about the sensitivity of the timing, the PMS said that it was entirely coincidental the Prime Minister and Mrs Blair were in Washington at the same time. Asked if it was coincidental that the Prime Minister's trip had been arranged as the same time as his wife's, the PMS said that both the Prime Minister's and the President's diary were two very busy diaries and obviously this was the time when they could meet. Asked if this raised the question about whether the Prime Minister's spouse should have stricter controls, the PMS said we had no comment to add to that media debate. Asked if it was correct that the embassy would be able to provide a list of prominent names of visitors the Ambassador had accompanied, the PMS suggested they spoke to the embassy in Washington, but his appearance had been normal procedure.
Asked what the view was on how the Foreign Secretary's statement had been received in Europe, the PMS that that next week there would be a meeting of all 25 EU countries where no doubt everyone would be able to express their view. We should wait for that meeting to see what happened. People made comments all the time, but the important thing was the EU Council next week where all the countries would be attending and able to raise issues in the appropriate manner.
Asked which parts of the EU Constitution Britain wished to 'cherry-pick', the Prime Minister's Spokesman (PMS) said that the Foreign Secretary had set out the position yesterday in his statement to the House of Commons. There would be a meeting of all the 25 leaders in Brussels next week where the Constitution would be discussed; we should wait for the outcome of that meeting.
Asked if we were wasting our time talking to the US about climate change when we should be talking to China, the PMS said that no doubt the Prime Minister would talking to all the leaders of the G8 during the next six months. Asked if the Prime Minister planned to go to China, the PMS said that he would be visiting China and India later in the year.
Asked if the Prime Minister was considering reviewing the rules governing the conduct of a Prime Minister's spouse, the PMS said that she hadn't discussed the issue with the Prime Minister. The Cabinet Office had been dealing with the issue and we had not made any comment.
Asked when the new Cabinet Secretary would be appointed, the PMS said she did not know.
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