» Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Lord Warner

The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) told journalists that Lord Warner, the Health Minister, had informed the Prime Minister of his intentions to retire a few weeks ago and he will retire at the end of this year. This was simple a case of Lord Warner, who is 66, wanting to spend more time with his family rather than red boxes. The Prime Minister has thanked Lord Warner for his work and dedication to the NHS. He said,

Briefing took place at 15:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Police Inquiry


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Iraq Survey Group

Asked what the Prime Minister meant when he referred to producing a different report on the ISG, the PMOS said he was not actually sure that the Prime Minister used the word report. What the Prime Minister meant was what we had said before, that the operation Sinbad in Basra was more than half way through. By the New Year we would have a better idea of how it was going overall. That will have implications, whichever way, for our troop numbers, their deployment, and therefore there would be a different situation. We would respond to that situation, and keep Parliament informed of that.

Briefing took place at 15:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Murders in Suffolk

Asked as the Prime Minister, on the basis of pubic safety, had made a statement in the House re the Litvinenko murder, would he be making a statement on the murders in Suffolk and any plans for discussion on plans for managed areas for prostitution, the PMOS said that nobody is in any about at all about the level of concern there is nationally and locally about this issue. We fully understand the impact these terrible events must be having on that particular area.

Briefing took place at 15:00 | Read whole briefing | Comment (1)

European Council

The PMOS said discussion would focus on enlargement, migration, ongoing work on climate change and energy, which would be taken on by the German Presidency. Foreign Ministers would discuss the Middle East and Africa, including Darfur. The Government expects the council to reaffirm its commitment to enlargement as a strategic goal, and it is obviously right that countries meet all the criteria, taking into account the experience of enlargement. However, we did not see any need for any new criteria. In terms of Turkey the issue there seems to have been resolved in the short term by the General Affairs Council. Therefore we did not see it being a big issue for this council but we remained fully committed to Turkish membership. The reasons why would form a large backdrop to the Prime Minister's visit to the Middle East in that we believed it was important we align ourselves with modern Muslim countries and bring them into the effort to move forward, particularly on the Palestine-Israel issue but also on the Middle East as a whole. Asked whether immigration would be on the agenda, the PMOS said that migration issues were a recurring item discussed at EU meetings. The issue was about cooperation between countries, as well as the overall implications of migration.

Briefing took place at 15:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Sudan and Darfur

Asked about the Government's stance on Darfur following reports in the Financial Times, the PMOS said that the Financial Times had got ahead of themselves in their story. The PMOS went on to read out what the Prime Minister had said last week, "I think the issue is getting the force in there and I think that if, in the next weeks and next couple of months or so, the Sudanese government are not prepared to agree to the U.N. plan, then we've got to move to sanctions and we've got to move to tougher action. And I think we should certainly consider the option of a no-fly zone to help people in Darfur, because it's a very, very serious situation and it's now spilling into other countries next door. But this is not our military force, certainly, in terms of boots on the ground."

Briefing took place at 15:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Middle East

Asked what the Prime Minister was trying to achieve in the Middle East the PMOS said, overall we were trying to move forward to serious engagement between Israel and Palestine, in a way that begins to address the answers that are needed for a final settlement. He recognised there were issues such as the kidnapping of Corporal Shalit and the position of Palestinian prisoners which get in the way of that process. What we needed to do was try and create the momentum that resolves the short-term issues and begins to address the long-term issues. The Prime Minister's view was that that is possible. Asked why did the Prime Minister think now was the right opportunity, the PMOS said in a peace process if you wait for the 'right time' it will almost certainly never come along. Instead, you always had to recognise the need to push things forward. If you sat back you may think the status quo will continue, but actually what tends to happen was things get worse rather than better. If however, you understand where people are and you understand the choices that have to be made, then you can begin to understand the way of moving things forward. There was no guarantee that things would get better, but there is a much better chance if you remain engaged. Asked whether it was right to say that the Prime Minister was the only one engaged, the PMOS said it was not true to say he was the only one. For instance, Condoleezza Rice had been very active in a public way, but very often in a private way behind the scenes. Sometimes, other leaders were also engaged. The Prime Minister had identified this as a particular area where he wanted to try and see what was possible in moving things forward in his remaining time, as he has said publicly.

Briefing took place at 15:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Armed Forces Allowances

Asked if the Home Secretary was aware of the commanding officer of the Grenadier Guards statement about the loss of up to £1,000 of allowances for troops, the PMOS said that the MoD are getting the detail on this and he did not wish to preempt anything they have to say but what was important is that people differentiate the new operational allowance of £2,200 pounds which is not connected with changes which were made to allowances announced in 2003.

Briefing took place at 15:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

British Aerospace

Asked whether Downing Street had been contacted in regards to the British Aerospace (BAE) investigation, the PMOS said as he has said before, he would not give a running commentary on an on going investigation.

Briefing took place at 15:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Police Inquiry


Briefing took place at 15:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

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