» Monday, November 23, 2009


Asked whether the Prime Minister would be making a statement to the House on Europe, the PMS said the Prime Minister would be making a written statement. Asked if this was the case because it had been an informal summit, the PMS said he would get back to people on the process.

Asked if the Prime Minister had anything to add to why Cathy Ashton’s abilities made her the right person for the job after reports over the weekend suggested that Lord Mandelson was not happy with the appointment, the PMS said that the Prime Minister would not add to her abilities as he thought her abilities were exactly what was required for the job.

Cathy Ashton had a distinguished track-record both in the House of Lords and as a Government Minister; she was a doughty negotiator and took through the Lisbon Treaty in the House of Lords, she had tremendous experience in national politics including her role in the Korea negotiations and the Prime Minister was delighted that we had such a well-suited candidate for this vitally important job at the head of Europe.

Asked if the Prime Minister recognised reports that Lord Mandelson was opposed to her nomination, the PMS said that the Prime Minister’s view was that we had the right person for the job. There had been lots of speculation last week about who the other candidates might be, but we had chosen successfully in nominating Cathy Ashton as High Representative.

Asked if the Prime Minister was surprised to see stories suggesting that Lord Mandelson had continued lobbying for himself in the role, the PMS said that the Prime Minister was never surprised to read speculative stories about his Government. The Prime Minister had made a decisive intervention in Brussels when it became clear that Tony Blair’s candidacy was unlikely to fly and we were able to secure such an important role at the heart of the Commission and Council.

Asked if the use of the word “speculative” meant that the PMS did not believe the stories, the PMS said that there was speculation about lots of Cabinet Ministers and if he commented every time then we would not be able to get to the important issues.

Asked if the Prime Minister was giving any thought to a Cabinet reshuffle, the PMS said that we did not comment on reshuffle speculation.

Asked whether the Prime Minister thought that Cathy Ashton would be able to influence decisions made by the European Commission, the PMS said absolutely; she was the second most senior person on the Commission. It was only possible for each country to have one commissioner and we had secured the second most senior Commission role. As all commissioners did, she would fight for the national interest of the UK.

Asked if she would be able to influence decisions made on economic policy, the PMS said that that was a very specific question. As a member of the Commission and when matters of importance were discussed, Cathy Ashton had a brief that gave her the authority to influence those discussions.

original source.

Briefing took place at 10:00 | Search for related news

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