» Wednesday, November 1, 2006

PMQ’s

Asked whether the Prime Minister had a problem regarding the Leader of the opposition asking questions about who his successor may be, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS), said the Prime Minister would answer whatever questions that were put to him. What he fully respected, however, was the authority of the Speaker. Asked whether the Prime Minister felt it was wrong to be asked this questions three weeks ago by the Leader of the Opposition, the PMOS said it was not the Prime Minister's role to second guess or in anyway question the authority of the Speaker. He respected the authority of the Speaker. Asked whether the Prime Minister or someone on his behalf had complained to the Speaker, the PMOS said the Government fully respected the authority of the Speaker. The Prime Minister would answer whatever the Speaker thought was appropriate for him to answer. That was the Prime Minister's approach.

Briefing took place at 13:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Iraq Inquiry-Des Browne

Asked what part of "no inquiry" did Des Browne not understand, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) replied that if people actually read the interview in full, it was very clear that what Des Browne was saying was precisely what Margaret Beckett and others had said. That was, that this was not the time to be discussing these matters, but rather, it was the time to get on with the job we were doing in Iraq and to support our troops. Des Browne did make a slip of the tongue, but he had openly acknowledged that, and did so immediately after the interview last night. The PMOS said that none of us were immune in doing so.

Briefing took place at 13:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Iraq

Asked why it was not possible for the Prime Minister to say that he would not rule out an inquiry yesterday, the PMOS said that if people actually looked back to yesterday, for instance, at the way Reuters had reported the suggested the outcome of yesterdays vote. It had said the Prime Minister faced humiliation. That was a headline on a story, which was carried in Iraq, and everywhere else. Therefore in terms of whether we should get into this issue now or later you had to make the judgement about what was actually in the interest of not just the troops, but also the Iraqi Government and the whole project in Iraq. As to what was helpful, that was why it was right for Margaret Beckett and indeed Des Browne to say now was not the time to be discussing these matters. What judgements should be made at a later stage was a matter for that later stage. It was not for now.

Briefing took place at 13:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Geoff Hoon

Asked if the Prime Minister had asked Geoff Hoon to report directly to him regarding the EU Constitution, the PMOS said that the situation was as he had set out on reshuffle day. That was that Margaret Beckett was Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, including Europe, and Geoff Hoon was Minister of State at the FCO with responsibility for Europe. Mr. Hoon also attended Cabinet and he reported to Mrs. Beckett and the Prime Minister, gave advice on Europe, and represented us in Europe, which he did very well.

Briefing took place at 13:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Middle East

Asked if we could now confirm that Sir Nigel Sheinwald had had talks with the Syrians and were they now willing to co-operate in the region, the PMOS replied that he was not going to speak for the Syrians. We had normal diplomatic relations with the Syrians, and Sir Nigel Sheinwald's visit should be seen in that context. We also had always said that Syria had a choice, and we had made that argument to the Syrians in the past, and it was worth continuing to make that argument. It was a matter for Syria to choose how it responded and what it did, but it was a matter for them, and not for us to speculate.

Briefing took place at 13:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Northern Ireland

Asked how significant were the talks at the Treasury today, the PMOS said the important point was, first and foremost, that all the parties were represented. All the parties were signalling their interest and commitment to getting a good deal for Northern Ireland. In terms of the outcome of the talks the PMOS said he would leave that to the Treasury and to the parties. However, what we were seeing was people taking seriously the prospect of devolution in March. That did not guarantee that it would happen, but it did mean that people were taking it very seriously indeed. That was a good omen.

Briefing took place at 13:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Prime Minister’s Regional Tour

Asked if the PMOS was able to give any details about the regional tour tomorrow, the PMOS said that all he could say was that the Prime Minister would give his fourth "Our Nations Future" lecture on Friday. It would be on Science. This was part of a series of lectures looking at what the Government needed to do to secure our country in future. Science was crucial to our future, crucial to our history and our health. It was obvious that technological advances and innovations were going to be the key to our future economic and industrial success.

Briefing took place at 13:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

London Olympics

Asked by the Daily Telegraph if the Prime Minister was still confident that the preparations for the London Olympics were going well, and was there any comment about the costs involved, as outlined by their story in today's paper, the PMOS replied that with regards to the costs, we knew that there was a review going on, as was right and proper. As Tessa Jowell said at Cabinet last week, we still firmly believed that this was being handled in such a way that it was the view of the Olympics Committee that we were well ahead of any comparable city at this stage in terms of preparation for the Olympics. Tessa Jowell had said that the IOC's view was that we were two years ahead of Sydney. With regards to Mr. Lemley, he had set out the reasons for his resignation when he left the ODA, and the PMOS directed people to those comments.

Briefing took place at 13:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Northern Ireland

Asked to confirm whether Ian Paisley would be meeting with the Prime Minister this afternoon, the PMOS said that he did not want to get into a running commentary about our contact with Northern Ireland parties. We had said at St. Andrews that we wanted the parties to come back and indicate their acceptance of the St. Andrews agreement as a possible way forward by the 10th November, and therefore, people should not be surprised if we were in touch with the parties at the moment. The St. Andrews agreement was still there, and we believed that there was a pathway to getting devolved government up and running on 26th March 2007, so we would wait to see what would happen.

Briefing took place at 13:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Tobacco

Asked whether the Prime Minister was in favour of raising the age to buy cigarettes, the PMOS said the Government was giving it serious consideration but we would all have to wait to see what the outcome was. The time to announce that was not at the three forty-five lobby.

Briefing took place at 13:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

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