» Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Asked who would be attending the EU Summit in Lisbon, the PMS said that he could confirm that the Prime Minister would be attending on Thursday. Due to the timing of the Liaison Committee, the Prime Minister would be unable to attend the actual signing ceremony, but he would attend some of the lunch with other leaders and he would sign the Treaty while he was there. The PMS added that the Prime Minister would be having a meeting with Prime Minister Socrates of Portugal and the PMS anticipated that there would also be meetings with other leaders ahead of the Council meeting on Friday.

Asked if the lack of the Prime Minister’s presence at the signing ceremony would send out a certain signal, the PMS explained to journalists who had not been present for recent lobby briefings, that we had been round this course many times, but he was happy to go round it again, if that’s what people wanted. As had been said before, there had been some uncertainty about the exact date as to when the Treaty would be signed. The PMS explained that the Liaison Committee had been agreed for the 13th December and we had done everything we could to accommodate the Prime Minister’s travel plans to Lisbon. The Liaison Committee very kindly agreed to bring forward the timing of their hearing from 10am to 9am, as was announced last week, so that the Prime Minister could be in Lisbon for as much of the day as possible.

Asked if anyone would be signing on behalf of the Prime Minister, the PMS said that as he understood it, the signing ceremony would be attended by Heads of Government and Foreign Ministers, so David Miliband would be there. Both Foreign Ministers and Heads of Government would sign the treaty, so the Prime Minister would be signing it later on when he got there. Asked if David Miliband would be signing the Treaty at the ceremony, or whether the Prime Minister would be signing it later, the PMS said that he was not sure what the exact arrangements were for exactly when pen goes to paper, but both would be signing the treaty. That was the arrangement for this particular treaty.

Asked if the Prime Minister would be signing the treaty in public, the PMS said that no one should be in any doubt as to whether or not the Prime Minister would have signed the treaty.

Put that the scheduling had been a complete mess-up, the PMS said he wouldn’t characterise it in that way. As he had said, there was a lot of uncertainty about exactly when the treaty would be signed. There had been some suggestion that it might have been signed at the EU Africa Summit at some point, but obviously attendance of that was conditional on the actions of Mr Mugabe, who was not the most predictable of people. There was also some possibility that it could have been signed at Brussels; so there were a number of balls that had to be juggled simultaneously, as well as having to arrange a time for the Liaison Committee. The most important thing, regardless of who signed it, who was at what ceremony, when or how it happened, was that this was a treaty negotiated by the Prime Minister and he thought it was a good treaty for Britain. We had secured our red lines and it would help streamline the functions of an enlarged Union. It was something the Prime Minister stood fully behind and took full responsibility for.

original source.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news

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