Asked for a response to the prominence given in the press to comments made by Jeremy Clarkson about the strikers, the Prime Minister’s Spokesperson (PMS) told the assembled media that he would not comment on editorial judgements made by media organisations.
Asked if the Prime Minister (PM) would be meeting with Jeremy Clarkson over Christmas, the PMS said he was not aware of any plans for them to meet.
Asked about time schedules for the talks, the PMS replied that there had been no change in position, the Government wanted to reach agreement by the end of the year and thought that was possible. The PMS also made clear that the Government expected scheme specific discussions to go forward based on the offer on the table, but said that within this there was flexibility to consider workforce specific adjustments that might be necessary.
Put that the offer might be taken off the table, the PMS said that ministers had consistently said that they reserved the right to withdraw the offer.
Asked if plans to link pensions to the CPI or RPI index would change given the forecasts from the Office of Budget Responsibility, the PMS replied that the policy had been set out.
Asked for a reaction to comments from Union leaders that those members who didn’t strike were scabs, the PMS replied that while unions talk about the right to strike, people also have the right to go to work and we did not want to see that sort of intimidation of staff. The PM was pleased that many people had chosen to work on Wednesday and provide the public services that people rely on.
Asked for details of the agenda for the PM’s meeting with President Sarkozy, the PMS replied that the leaders would be discussing similar themes to what would be discussed at European Council later next week. The PMS reminded the assembled media that Van Rompuy would be presenting a paper next week and that document would set out further areas for discussion.
Asked whether the Government still looked to repatriate employment laws, the PMS replied that the Government would always look to further national interests but reminded the assembled press that we would need to see what was put on the table. He said it was too early to be specific about the way we would approach negotiations.
Asked for further details about sanctions on Iranian oil, the PMS referred the media to the FCO.
Asked if there would be a rethink on child poverty, the PMS said that a report from Frank Field had looked into the issue of how you measure child poverty and the PM’s comments reflected some of that work.