» Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Update from DowningStreetSays: Welsh Assembly now Online

Here at Downing Street Says we're deeply flattered to see that David Jones has taken our format and applied it to the Welsh Assembly to create Assembly Online. We wish him and his fine new site the best of luck.

Briefing took place at 16:33 | Read whole briefing | Comment (1)


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

Middle East

Asked if the Prime Minister's call for balance in expressing opinions about the Middle East was an implicit criticism of the former diplomats' letter to him, the PMOS said that as he had told journalists at this morning's press briefing, we were quite happy to have a debate about the Middle East and Iraq. Irrespective of the diplomats' letter, the Prime Minister's comments about the Israeli/Palestinian issue always emphasised the need for balance and the need to understand the position of both sides. That was our approach. It was for the diplomats to explain the approach which they were taking. As we knew from experience, without balance, people would not be able to address the full complexity - and pain - of the issue in question. Put to him that the Prime Minister had appeared to be indicating quite strongly today that he did not think the diplomats' letter was balanced, the PMOS said that our disagreements with the letter had been spelled out at this morning's briefing. In our view, it was important not to personalise the issue. Rather, people should be addressing the substance of the argument. For the Israeli/Palestinian issue, that meant taking a balanced approach. On Iraq, we believed that the country was capable of democracy and that we should help to bring that about.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comment (1)

Migration/PM’s Speech

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

Middle East/Diplomats’ letter

Asked again about the letter from former diplomats to the Prime Minister regarding the Middle East, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that if the former diplomats wanted a debate about our foreign policy, then that was something to be welcomed. As he had told journalists at yesterday afternoon's briefing, our goal was clear both in terms of Iraq and the Israeli/Palestinian question: we wanted to see stability and democracy. On the Israeli/Palestinian issue, as the Prime Minister and President Bush had made clear repeatedly, not least in their joint press conference in the White House Rose Garden recently, the goal was a two-state solution - a viable Israel alongside a viable Palestinian state. As the Prime Minister had said, if Prime Minister Sharon's recent announcement resulted in 7,000 settlers leaving Gaza and parts of the West Bank, then that was to be welcomed as a first step. As both he and the President had made clear, that did not in any way pre-empt or pre-judge final status negotiations. Equally, our goal in Iraq is to see a democracy because we believed that the Iraqi people should be making judgements about themselves for themselves. It was important for people to recognise that that goal was only possible because of the removal of Saddam. Similarly, it could only come to pass if the terrorists there who saw democracy as a threat to their position were defeated. That was the raison d'etre for the approach we were taking on Iraq and the Israeli/Palestinian issue.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (16)

Migration/PM’s speech

Asked if migrants who were not self sufficient because they were in poorly paid jobs would be entitled to housing benefit and income support, the PMOS said that the important point was whether they had come to the UK to fill an important job vacancy and were still working, or whether they had come to the UK to live off the benefits system. We would not allow anyone to get away with the latter situation. Asked which migrants would now be refused a council house who would otherwise have been eligible for one before, the PMOS said that he was referring to people coming from the new accession states or other parts of the EU who were not economically active. Further details would be announced by the ODPM on Friday.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (3)

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