» Wednesday, May 10, 2006

EU Commission report

The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) told journalists that the Prime Minister had welcomed the Agenda for Europe document that was published by the EU Commission today. It chimed with the vision that the Prime Minister had set out in his June speech to the European Parliament which came immediately after the French and Danish referendums in which he had talked about the needs to concentrate on the context within Europe, not the text. In other words, on delivering on issues such as the single market and economic reform within Europe to show real delivery for citizens, not the constitution. That vision was further defined at Hampton Court at our special summit, and was echoed yesterday by Chancellor Merkel, who had said that her number one priority in Europe was completing the single market. The PMOS said that what the document today showed was the dynamic within Europe had changed, and it would never be the same again, and there was a new consensus emerging as the document made clear. It went back to the Prime Minister's speech, but it was also the result of our successful EU Presidency.

Briefing took place at 10:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Guantanamo Bay

Asked if the Prime Minister shared Lord Goldsmith's disapproval of Guantanamo Bay, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said he would simply refer journalists to what the Prime Minister had said at his monthly press conference, where he once again talked about why he believed that Guantanamo Bay should be put on some sort of proper judicial footing. That had been his position all along. Asked if he thought it should be closed, the PMOS said that, as the Prime Minister had said on Monday, there was a genuine dilemma in that the United States had good reason to believe that these people posed a threat and therefore to simply release them was not a practical solution. However there should be a proper judicial process. Questioned further, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister had always said that it was an anomaly and there should be a proper judicial process in place.

Briefing took place at 10:00 | Read whole briefing | Comment (1)

PMQs

Asked about the Prime Minister's reaction to today's PMQs and did he think that they had gone well, and was he taken aback by the lack of support from the backbenchers, the PMOS said that he was not going to get into party matters, as people knew. The Prime Minister had acknowledged today, as he had also done during his recent press conference that everybody knew that it had been a difficult time. The key question was: was the a Prime Minister and the Government still delivering on the election manifesto it was elected on a year ago? The PMOS said whether it was on health, on education, where the Prime Minister would argue very strongly that the reform process was up and running, and needed to be kept going, and where hard decisions, such as tuition fees and foundation hospitals and City Academies were paying off. The PMOS also said it was issues such as Europe and today we had clear evidence that the vision the Prime Minister had set out was paying off, and was being driven through. We also had upcoming issues, especially in the field of pensions and energy where again, there will be hard decisions that have to be taken in the interests of the country, and the Prime Minister was quite prepared to do that.

Briefing took place at 10:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Ruth Kelly

Asked if the Prime Minister would consider changing Ruth Kelly's role in terms of being in charge of equality given her views on gay rights, the PMOS said that the short answer to that question was no. Ruth Kelly had said repeatedly yesterday that she was committed to the equality agenda and to fighting discrimination of any kind in the workplace. It was a matter that she led on when she was in the Cabinet Office and there was no question of her absolute commitment. She had also expressed a belief and support for the collective responsibility principle in Cabinet and she fully supported Government policy.

Briefing took place at 10:00 | Read whole briefing | Comment (1)

Prime Minister

Asked for a reaction to remarks by John Denham that the Government seemed more out of touch with the voters than ever, the PMOS said that it would be entirely wrong for him to comment on John Denham per se, he was entitled to his views. However he would simply say that the Prime Minister had been elected a year ago on a program of reform. That program of reform covered areas such as education, the health service and protecting this country from threats such as terror. On all those matters the Prime Minister believed that he was reflecting the public's concerns, both to improve public services as well as invest in them and equally to protect this country from terrorist threats. Some people had difficulties with that and the Prime Minister recognised that but he believed that that was what the public wanted.

Briefing took place at 10:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

European Union

Put that it sounded as if the Prime Minister was "pretty desperate to lay claim to ownership" to something that was going to happen anyway, the PMOS replied that first of all, the Prime Minister was the person who made the speech in Europe, and even at the time, people remarked that it was going to change the agenda in Europe. What our EU Presidency showed was that it had changed the agenda, and the question people asked in June was: very good speech, but was it just rhetoric? The PMOS said that the EU Commission paper today showed that it was reality. What it also showed was the growing consensus that there was in Europe was on the agenda that we set out at Hampton Court on issues such as energy, which was not on the agenda before.

Briefing took place at 10:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

John Prescott

Asked if there was any information about the Cabinet Committees that John Prescott would be sharing, the PMOS replied that if people looked back at any other previous reshuffle, there was always a timelag between when a reshuffle had happened, and when the Cabinet Committees were announced. That was because the process of changing the committee's system could not be started to reflect the reshuffle's new priorities until it had been announced. The PMOS said that the reshuffle was on Friday, today was Wednesday, and things did not move that fast.

Briefing took place at 10:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (2)

Jane Kennedy

Asked to explain the Prime Minister's stumble about Jane Kennedy today at PMQs, the PMOS replied that the Prime Minister respected Ministers and ex-Ministers privacy in terms of what their conversations with him were.

Briefing took place at 10:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Chief Whip

Asked how the Prime Minister rated the performance of his new Chief Whip, the PMOS said that he had a very high regard for her.

Briefing took place at 10:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Iranian President’s letter

Asked about a letter sent from the Iranian President to President Bush, the PMOS said that the US Government had expressed its view, and that was all that mattered. The key question was not a letter, but rather, it was whether the Iranian Government recognised the international will as expressed at the UN by the united world. The answer to that so far seemed to be no.

Briefing took place at 10:00 | Read whole briefing | Comment (1)

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