Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM)
Asked whether the Prime Minister had met anyone in Dubai, where the flight to CHOGM stopped for re-fuelling, the PMS replied that the Prime Minister had not met anyone.
Asked for the Government’s position on the idea of a two-speed Europe and the UK being on the outside of it, the PMS referred to the Chancellor’s words from earlier on in the day and added that there were some things that the body of countries that were part of the Eurozone needed to do on their own. The PMS said that the key thing for the UK was that where there were decisions or discussions to be had regarding the 27, we maintained our influence and our voice, in order to protect our national interest.
Asked whether it was thought that the idea of a Eurozone with its own presidency and meetings twice a year would require only minor treaty changes as the Chancellor had said earlier, the PMS said that the Chancellor had set out the Government’s view on this matter. The PMS added that we would need to ensure that our national interests were protected, when these discussions took place.
Asked whether it was thought that this would lead to any changes in the UK-EU relationship or the transfer of powers to the EU, the PMS replied that we would need to see the detail, which we would be pressing for in the coming days and weeks.
Asked what the Chancellor meant when he said we would seek to rebalance the responsibilities between the EU and its member states which in our view have become unbalanced, the PMS said that the Chancellor had been referring to Eurozone decisions that need to be made by Eurozone members; the bailout fund which we have made clear that we are not going to be part of; ensuring the EU budget is held down which is a decision for the 27 and putting into law the guarantee that no further powers or competences can be transferred to Brussels, which was now in our own statutes and it was very clear that we would have a referendum if there was any significant change to that.
Asked whether the treaty change could be an opportunity to negotiate the repatriation of some powers, the PMS said that the Prime Minister’s position on this was clear, it was debated by the House and overwhelmingly the decision of the House was that now was not the time for that. The PMS added that the priority was to sort out the crisis in the Eurozone.
Put that if the Chancellor is talking about giving more money to the IMF then that would be a matter for Parliament, the PMS said the Treasury would provide further details on the process, adding that the Government was in favour of ensuring that the IMF was well-resourced in order to help countries. The PMS said that that was quite separate to bailing out the Eurozone. The IMF was not a substitute for the Eurozone sorting out its problems and the IMF was not mentioned in the proposals that were agreed the night before.
Asked what the Prime Minister said to Ken Clarke in between Ken Clarke telling the Home Affairs Select Committee he was not in favour of knife-wielding teenage offenders being locked up and then Ken Clarke announcing he was, the PMS referred to what the Prime Minister had said in June, when he said he wanted to see a new sentencing regime which would be better understood by the public and command greater confidence. The PMS added that the Government was sending a very strong message that those who committed very serious offences would be punished.