» Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Immigration Stocktake

Asked when the immigration summit would take place, the PMOS said that it had had to be postponed from today because of Parliamentary business. It would now be held tomorrow. Journalists would have the opportunity to question the Prime Minister about it at his monthly press conference on Thursday.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

European Constitution

Asked to clarify the situation should the Government still be in power at the time of the referendum and the result of the vote was 'no', the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that as a Civil Servant he was unable to comment on party political matters. However, were a referendum to take place, the Government would obviously set out to win it. It was important to recognise that we would only agree to the Constitution if it met our red lines. Therefore, if the proper issues were put to the electorate in a detailed way after having gone through the process of Parliamentary scrutiny, the Government believed it would win. That said, the vote would obviously depend on circumstances at the time which no one could possibly predict in the here and now. He pointed out that a no vote would also place this country in a difficult position because we would have to convince the other twenty-four European member states to agree to our changes to the Constitution, which would be very complex to do. Asked if it would be 'conceivable' that the Government would have to renegotiate Britain's basic membership of the EU in the event of a no vote, the PMOS said that no one should underestimate the difficulty of convincing twenty-four other countries to accept changes to a Constitution to which they had agreed - and, indeed, to which we would only have agreed in the first place because we believed that it respected our red lines. Asked if that meant that the Treaty would be effectively non-amendable when it was debated in Parliament, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister had dealt with this issue in the House today. The Constitution would be debated in the same way that other EU Treaties, such as Maastricht, had been debated in the past. In this case, however, it would be open to proper scrutiny to enable the public to obtain a much deeper understanding of the issues involved and the reality of what had been agreed, rather than the myths. The vox pops yesterday showed that most people did not have a deep knowledge of the issues relating to the European Constitution. The Parliamentary scrutiny process would change that. Pressed as to whether the remaining twenty-four EU members states would have to renegotiate the Constitution were any changes to be made by the British Parliament, the PMOS said that any changes to a Treaty which had been agreed by EU member states would obviously have to be renegotiated. That was common sense.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Northern Ireland

Asked about the proposition to fine Sinn Fein if IRA activity did not cease, the PMOS said that Paul Murphy had said that he would withdraw allowances from Sinn Fein and would consider the position regarding salaries, particular in the light of a further IMC report due in the autumn. The IMC report which had been published today was a painfully honest account of the current situation. It underlined the fall in violence and the dramatic drop in the number of murders since the Good Friday Agreement. Unfortunately, it also underlined the continuing level of paramilitary activity on both sides of the community divide that was creating new numbers of victims, in particular through punishment beatings, as well as the incident relating to Bobby Tohill. Asked what would happen next, the PMOS said that rather than focussing on sanctions, people should recognise where responsibility lay and understand that the political process would only be able to move forward if paramilitary activity was brought to an end. That analysis should sound familiar because the Prime Minister had first spoken about it in a speech in Belfast in 2002. Asked why paramilitary groups should start taking any notice of it now when they clearly hadn't for the last eighteen months or so, the PMOS said he would disagree with the suggestion that it hadn't had any effect. Given the reaction to the attempted abduction of Bobby Tohill, it was clear that the consistency of the view about paramilitary activity had grown over that period and that there was a much clearer demand on the paramilitaries to bring their activities to an end. Everyone in Northern Ireland recognised the dangers if they did not. Just because it might take time for a message to get through did not mean that it was not valid.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

European Constitution

Questioned about the Prime Minister's Statement to the House of Commons today, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that he was not going to pre-empt it. However, it was important to be clear about the general approach of the Prime Minister and the Government to this matter. If there were to be an agreed Constitution, it would obviously have to respect our red lines. In doing so, neither the Prime Minister nor the Government had anything to fear in debating the reality of the Constitution rather than the myth. As the Prime Minister had said yesterday in the House, he looked forward to taking on that debate.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (5)

Downing Street Says...

The unofficial site which lets you comment on the UK Prime Minister's official briefings. About us...


April 2004
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
« Mar   May »

Supported by


Disruptive Proactivity

Recent Briefings



Syndicate (RSS/XML)



Contact Sam Smith.

This site is powered by WordPress. Theme by Jag Singh