» Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Reshuffle Questions

Asked if there were no events happening on Wednesday because there was likely to be a Cabinet reshuffle, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMOS) applauded the journalist for possibly setting a new record for the fastest reshuffle question at lobby. However as always he never commented on reshuffle questions. Asked if the Prime Minister still had full confidence in the Deputy Prime Minister, the PMOS said yes. Asked if the Prime Minister still had full confidence in the Home Secretary, the PMOS said yes.

Asked if it was true that the Home Secretary might not have offered to resign afterall, the PMOS said that, as he had outlined last week, the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary had had a meeting on another matter. During that meeting they had had a brief discussion about the Home Secretary’s resignation and they agreed that the Home Secretary was the best person to sort the problem in the Home Office out, since he had already initiated action. Asked if the Deputy Prime Minister was at work today, the PMOS referred journalists to the ODPM. Asked if the Prime Minister had any plans to speak to the Deputy Prime Minister, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister kept in contact with all his Cabinet colleagues on a regular basis. He didn’t brief on individual conversations.

Asked to characterise the Prime Minister’s general mood and whether there was a danger that people might see him as not taking these issues seriously enough, the PMOS said that if you looked at the Prime Minister’s and the Government’s record on dealing with issues such as asylum or street crime or general law and order issues like the Respect agenda, it was clearly visible that the Prime Minister took these kinds of issues very very seriously and was determined to resolve them. It was entirely fair for the Prime Minister to point out that the reason the problem in the Home Office had come to light was precisely because of the reform agenda within the Home Office. It was the appointment of new personnel last January which uncovered the problem, and led to the NAO being able to get information for the first time in this area. The Prime Minister was committed to driving the process of reform which, in this area or for example in the Health area in terms of deficits, uncovered problems which then needed to be resolved. That was the price you paid for reform in the short term, but the medium and long term you got the benefit.

Put to him that he had ignored the issue of the Deputy Prime Minister and that had had an impact on the image of the Government, the PMOS said that that issue remained a private matter and it would be wrong of him to discuss it. Asked about the possibility of Sir John Bourn investigating a possible breach of the ministerial code, the PMOS repeated what he had said on Friday that reports about Sir John Bourn were to his knowledge inaccurate. In terms of calls for an inquiry that was not a matter for him to comment on. Asked to explain the process for John Bourn investigating ministers, the PMOS said that as he had said on Friday, we had covered these matters at the time of Sir John Bourn’s appointment.

Briefing took place at 14:00 | Search for related news

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