Press release

Number 10 Press Briefing - Afternoon For 21 October 2011

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

From the Prime Minister's spokesperson on: Eurozone meeting, European referendum and Libya.

Eurozone meeting

Asked if the Prime Minister would change his travel arrangements next week if there was a second meeting of the European Council, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) said the President of the European Council had not confirmed a further European Council meeting. He added that there had been a statement from the German and French Governments yesterday that talked about a second meeting of Heads of State and Government, but that there it was not clear whether this was for a meeting of Eurozone countries or all 27 European states.

Asked if the UK was peripheral to discussions about the Eurozone considering it was not a member, the PMS said there would be discussions at Ecofin and the European Council about issues that affect all 27 states including bank recapitalisation. Asked if the Prime Minister had, in a recent video conference with Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy, discussed the possibility of an extra summit, the PMS said that he understood it may have been discussed. He added that there were a number of meetings scheduled with a view to doing that. Asked for a response to accusations the Prime Minister was not doing enough to broker a deal, the PMS said the Prime Minister had been very active on this matter and had spoken to his counterparts in Europe a number of times in recent days.

European referendum

Asked if MPs would be allowed to vote for amendments to the referendum vote on Monday, the PMS said the amendments were not in line with Government policy.


Asked whether the Prime Minister had discussed Libya in his video conference with other world leaders, the PMS said the process of stabilisation had been discussed. Asked for clarification of statements on the death of Gaddafi, the PMS said that the Defence Secretary had said that a convoy had tried to break out of Sirte early yesterday morning. Surveillance intelligence was that the convoy contained senior military leaders, they were attacking civilians and they were therefore a legitimate NATO target. He added that there had been a strike and damage to the convoy vehicles before free Libyan fighters had moved in. He said that after that it was not clear what had happened.

Asked if there should be an investigation, the PMS said that it was for the National Transitional Council to clarify the circumstances of Gadaffi’s death. Asked if the RAF had been involved in the strike on the convoy, the PMS said it was understood British aircraft had been in the air over Libya yesterday but that there had been no strike sorties. Asked if the Government knew Gaddafi had been in the convoy, the PMS said the Defence Secretary had said there had been intelligence that there were senior military leaders in the convoy.

Asked if the Prime Minister felt British businesses should be given preferential treatment for contracts in Libya compared with businesses from countries not involved in air strikes, the PMS said British businesses would be able to win contracts on their own terms. Asked if NATO missions over Libya would be brought to an end, the PMS said the issue would be discussed by NATO that day. Asked if NATO had given instructions to free Libya fighters as to what they should do if they saw Colonel Gaddafi, the PMS said the UN had expressed a view on this issue. The UN resolution stated that Libya’s former leaders should be prosecuted. He added that the Defence Secretary had also said that he thought Gaddafi should have been brought to trial and forced to answer for his actions.