» Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Nicolas Sarkozy/Europe

Asked how the Prime Minister regarded Nicolas Sarkozy, and was he someone the Prime Minister thought he could do business with, the PMOS said that as people knew, the Prime Minister had met Mr. Sarzoky many times and had expressed his views on him. In terms of getting on with the business, Europe did face major decisions, and the Prime Minister believed that he could work with other leaders in Europe, for example, the German Presidency and Chancellor Merkel to achieve that.

Asked if the Prime Minister thought that Mr. Sarzoky’s election made it more likely that an agreement could be reached on the constitution at the June summit, the PMOS said that he always believed that getting into the "more likely-less-likely" game in any negotiation was a mug’s game. What was important was that people concentrated on the detail, and the Prime Minister had set out very clearly his overall approach to the detail in his press conferences.

Put by BBC24 that there was some concern that the Prime Minister might have negotiated a deal on this at a time of transition in Government, and was there any information about negotiations between the Prime Minister and the Chancellor, the PMOS said that he was surprised at the question, as the journalist had been at the press conferences with the Dutch Prime Minister and also, with Chancellor Merkel. The Prime Minister had set out quite transparently his approach to this issue. What we should aim for was something without the characteristics of a constitution, and people should not expect him at this stage to go into those details when we were still talking to our European colleagues. France was still in the process of transferring from one President to another. The PMOS said that we had been transparent in setting out what we had been aiming to achieve, and in setting out the limits of what we believed was desirable.

Put that the devil was in the detail, and was the Prime Minister consulting the Chancellor on this, as it was a crucial matter of British foreign policy, the PMOS agreed that it was a crucial matter, but the Prime Minister would remain fully engaged as Prime Minister. This would be a negotiation which the Prime Minister would lead on behalf of the whole Government.

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

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