» Thursday, November 30, 2006

Trident and White Paper

Asked if the white paper, published on Monday, would be a consensus of the Cabinet view, the PMOS said yes it would be; the Defence Secretary and Foreign Secretary have been speaking to Cabinet colleagues in detail and initial discussions about the decision have been made already.

Asked if the white paper would propose one signal option, the PMOS said yes as was made clear after the last Cabinet discussion on the matter that the white paper would not be an a la carte approach, it would be a government decision. Asked what the Prime Minister’s response was to Hans Blix’s comments that renewing, updating and upgrading the British nuclear deterrent would make it more difficult to prevent countries like Iran from getting nuclear weapons, the PMOS said that in terms of the rationale behind any decision on Trident, the best time to take about that would be after Monday and the white paper. In terms of Iran it has stated its own reasons and Britain’s position has not been amongst them.

Asked that as the White Paper would be published about an hour after the special Cabinet does that mean that it is already a done deal and everyone is following neatly behind the Prime Minister, the PMOS said that firstly there had been an initial discussion on the context. Secondly the Defence Secretary and the Foreign Secretary have held detailed discussions with Cabinet colleagues. Thirdly the White Paper will be published on Monday but there will then be a period of discussion, followed by a full debate and vote in the House of Commons.

Asked that the White Paper would have to be vague on the actual weaponry, the PMOS said he did not discuss the detail of a White Paper before publication but people should note that there had been a substantial discussion held with each Cabinet minister with both the Foreign Secretary and Defence Secretary.

Asked as there had already been extensive discussion would the special Cabinet be more concerned with how the debate should be conducted within Parliament and how the arguments could be made rather than it being a decision making Cabinet, the PMOS said no, the Cabinet would made the final decision about what the Government’s proposal is, but because of the initial discussions about the context in Cabinet and the individual discussions people have a fair idea of where we are. Asked if the individual discussions had been the Foreign and Defence Secretaries speaking to an individual Cabinet Minister, or one on ones, the PMOS said it had been the latter. Asked that it was still the plan to have the vote in the New Year, the PMOS said yes it was.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Search for related news

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