Asked for details of the plane the Government was sending to Egypt, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) told the assembled press that we were chartering a plane. The information we had had this morning was that the queues at the airport had gone down and that there were commercial flights leaving Egypt with spare seats on them, but he emphasised that we needed to have sufficient capacity in place.
Asked what had changed from yesterday when people were being advised to leave on commercial flights, the PMS said that the Government wanted to supplement the flight capacity we had and to make sure the service was there if people needed it.
On why the Government was charging people for the service, the PMS replied that people were getting out of the country on commercial flights in the normal way. We were ensuring there was sufficient capacity in place. The PMS advised people that the Government was making sensible contingency plans.
Put that the chartered plane could sit at Cairo airport if the commercial flights were working well, the PMS advised people to speak to the Foreign Office on the details.
Asked if the Foreign Secretary had hardened the Government’s line on the situation when he said that he expected the new Egyptian government to be a broad-based government that would need to ‘adopt real and visible change that would lead to an orderly transition’, the PMS said that we had been stressing the need for an orderly transition for some time. The PMS said that he had spoken about a broad-based government this morning; this was the view being expressed by the Egyptian people and we thought that it was important for the Egyptian government to respond to those views.
Asked what conversations had been had with Egyptian officials over the last few days over the British aid budget, the PMS said that he did not think there was a bilateral aid programme with Egypt. There had been lots of contact between the two countries, but that had not related to aid or money. The PMS said that we did not have that kind of relationship with Egypt.
Asked if the Government knew whether President Mubarak’s sons were in the UK and if so, did it think it was right for them to be here, the PMS advised people to speak to the FCO on that issue.
Asked about the status of the debate in the House and the vote that would follow it, the PMS replied that if there was a motion and Parliament debated and voted on it, then that was Parliament expressing its view. The PMS added that we had said that we would listen to Parliament’s view and take it into account.
Put that a group of lawyers this morning had told the Government that it would need to act on this before the May 5th election, as the Scottish and Welsh elections were covered by the European convention, the PMS replied that lawyers could appear before committees and express legal views.
The PMS said that this debate would take place next week and we would listen to what Parliament had to say. We would take that into account as well as our own legal advice and then come forward with a proposal.
Asked if the August deadline for this remained, the PMS said that we would not be changing our timetable on this.
Asked if there had been a ‘formal get together’ for Andy Coulson leaving No10, the PMS replied that there hadn’t been.
Asked if the Cabinet Secretary had released more papers concerning Libya, the PMS said that the Cabinet Secretary was reviewing the relevant papers and his report would be published soon.