News story

Afternoon Press Briefing from 7 Feb 2012

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Syria, the health reforms and Abu Qatada were among the topics discussed at this Lobby briefing.


Asked how long the PM convened the National Security Council meeting for that day, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesperson (PMOS)  said the meeting had lasted an hour.

Asked whether the UK had discussed the idea of arming the opposition to Syrian President Assad’s regime, the PMOS said that the topic had not been discussed and the Foreign Secretary had made it clear they would not be arming any party and any struggle should remain peaceful.

When asked if the UK was going to provide the opposition with any other form of support, the PMOS referred to the Foreign Secretary’s statement.

Asked whether there would be further sanctions imposed on Syria by the UK or through the EU, the PMOS said that progress had been by EU partners.
Asked what the PM’s views on Lavrov’s comments were - that President Assad was seeking peace in Syria - the PMOS said that the Foreign Secretary was eager to meet and talk to Lavrov as soon as possible. The Government would judge Syrian regime on its actions not words and the UK was looking for an Arab-led solution.

Asked whether the UK had asked for a cease-fire in Syria, the PMOS said that the UK was looking for an end to the violence.

Health Reforms

Asked whether the PM was to make a statement on a recent article citing No10 comments on the Health Secretary, the PMOS said that there were no plans to make a statement and the PM backed the Health Secretary.

Asked whether there were plans within No10 to investigate the source of the comments, the PMOS said that she would not comment on speculative sources.

Asked whether the PM felt a case for health service reforms had been made convincingly enough, the PMOS said the Government position remained the same but that the reforms were subject to further debate. The PM’s view remains determined to reform the NHS for the better, to improve patient care and address the challenges facing the NHS in the future.

Asked whether the PM would drop the Bill as he could make the reforms without legislation, the PMOS said that the PM was committed to the Bill.

Abu Qatada

Asked whether the Abu Qatada case had been discussed at the NSC meeting of that day, the PMOS said that it had not.