Briefing by the Prime Minister's Spokesman on: the World Cup, Cumbria shootings, Middle East meeting and the BP oil leak.
Asked if every department will now be flying the England flag, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) told the assembled press that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport would be because that is the department that leads on guidance on flags.
Other departments would be encouraged to, but essentially it will be a decision for individual Secretaries of State. As per current protocol, the Union flag would always be flown above government departments, so only departments with a second flagpole would also have an opportunity to fly the England flag as well.
When asked if staff would be allowed to wear England kit to work, the PMS responded that, whilst there are no specific guidelines on what staff may wear, it is expected that they would dress appropriately when at work.
It was queried when Downing Street would raise its flag, and the PMS confirmed this would take place on Saturday morning ahead of Trooping the Colour. This was when there would be a routine change of flags, so staff would use this opportunity to raise the England flag as well.
On it being suggested that the Prime Minister may be concerned about absenteeism during the World Cup, the PMS said she was not aware of any specific concerns and that most games were outside of work time for most people. This would be an issue for individual organisations and line managers to deal with.
Asked whether there was a readout from the Prime Minister’s meeting with Cumbria MPs following PMQs, the PMS said there was none as yet. It was a private meeting.
Middle East meeting
Asked for a readout of the meeting between the Prime Minister and King Abdullah of Jordan this morning, the PMS read out a statement sent out earlier confirming that the two reaffirmed the important bilateral relationship with Jordan, the UK’s strongest partner in the region. They discussed the latest situation in the Middle East, in particular the Middle East peace process and Iran.
BP oil leak
Put that the Prime Minister may have some concerns about the language used by President Obama against BP, the PMS said that the Prime Minister would not want to comment specifically on what the President had said. However, he hopes that a resolution to the situation could be found as soon as possible.
In terms of what was happening in the UK, the Energy Minister had been leading talks with BP, and met a representative last week. Also there were conversations ongoing at official level.
On it being suggested that President Obama was attacking BP based on its nationality by referring to it as ‘British Petroleum’, the PMS asserted that the Prime Minister would not want to comment on an individual company, but was clear that BP was a global company. This was an issue that was clearly important to President Obama due to the location of the incident, but ultimately this was a matter for the company to sort the problem out.
Asked whether it was true that BP had been to the British Embassy in Washington to discuss President Obama’s attacks, the PMS said this was a matter for the Foreign Office. Discussions continued at official level, keeping the UK up to date with BP and their handling of the situation.
When it was suggested that the Prime Minister may be worried about the effect of the spill on British markets, the PMS said that the Prime Minister would not be commenting on an individual company and its effect on the markets.
Asked if the Prime Minister was concerned about an anti-British backlash in the USA, the PMS responded that the problems faced by the people on the east coast of America were tragic, and that the Prime Minister hoped a solution would be found as soon as possible.