Asked to explain the contradiction between what the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) had said this morning about the Government supporting Prince Andrew and the Business Secretary’s comments that Prince Andrew should judge the position he wants to be in, the PMS said that he couldn’t see any contradiction between the two comments. The Business Secretary had been making the point that the Trade Envoy role was voluntary.
Asked why No 10 sources had been saying yesterday that no tears would be shed if Prince Andrew stood down, the PMS said that all he could do was set out the Government’s position and he had done that this morning.
Asked when the quotes from UK businesses supporting Prince Andrew’s role had been put together by UKTI, the PMS said that they were statements that had been made recently, not today.
Asked why these statements were being released, the PMS said that they were made by individual companies and as such were a matter for them.
Asked if the Prime Minister thought that Prince Andrew should stay on as Trade Envoy, the PMS said that we had made our position clear: we supported Prince Andrew in his role as Trade Envoy.
Asked for details on the next diplomatic mission to Benghazi, the PMS said that our intention was to send more people to Libya in order to strengthen contacts but we would not comment on operational matters.
Asked if the Prime Minister had known that the SAS had been sent as part of the diplomatic group, the PMS said that he had answered the question about authorisation this morning and there was nothing further to add.
Put that the Defence Secretary had said yesterday that the UK Government wanted to help in the demise of Colonel Gaddafi, the PMS said that the Government’s position was that it was time for Gaddafi to go and that there should be a transition to a government that recognised the aspirations of the Libyan people. We were having discussions with opposition figures/groups to get a better understanding of the position in the country.
Asked what the Government’s position was on Gaddafi attacking civilians who were armed, the PMS said that there should be restraint on all sides and we wanted to see an end to violence.
Asked what the Foreign Secretary had meant when he said there needed to be agreement in the region for a no-fly zone to go ahead, the PMS said that we were continuing to work on this and as of last week NATO was also conducting detailed planning. We were talking to international colleagues, and the Foreign Secretary’s explanation reflected those discussions.