Asked for the Prime Minister’s view on Ming Campbell’s comments that William Hague did not have the enthusiasm for the job of Foreign Secretary anymore, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) told the assembled press that the Foreign Secretary had been asked a similar question in his press conference earlier today and had given an answer.
On what the Prime Minister’s views were on the situation, the PMS replied that the Prime Minister agreed with the Foreign Secretary. Asked how long the Prime Minister wanted the Foreign Secretary to continue in the job, the PMS said that we were often asked questions about reshuffles, which we never commented on, but there were no plans to have one any time soon.
When asked if the Prime Minister was keen to see the Foreign Secretary stay, the PMS said absolutely.
Asked if reports that Special Advisers would be among the public servants to lose their jobs were accurate, the PMS said no.
On whether a possible no-fly zone in Libya was still at the planning stage or had it entered a critical phase, the PMS replied that the position was still as set out by the Foreign Secretary yesterday, who had set some conditions such as the need for regional support, a clear trigger and an appropriate legal basis.
The PMS said that we were working with international partners to progress that and there was a meeting of NATO Defence Ministers on Thursday. Asked if plans for a no-fly zone would progress in that meeting, the PMS said that the meeting had been in the diary anyway and he advised people to speak to MOD about the agenda. The PMS said that NATO was undertaking planning work on no-fly zones.
Asked about how quickly the planning was progressing, the PMS said that NATO had been asked to do some work and that’s what they were doing. Our priority at this time was to put pressure on the regime and to isolate it and that’s what we were doing.
On whether there was any evidence that diplomatic pressure was having an effect, the PMS replied that we were monitoring the situation in the country. We thought the right approach was to continue to apply pressure, but the situation was evolving.
Asked if the Prime Minister had had any conversations with opposition groups in Libya, the PMS replied that those efforts were being led by the Foreign Office.
On whether the Prime Minister and Prime Minister Sharaf of Egypt had discussed the situation in Libya, the PMS replied that it may have been mentioned but there was no substantive conversation on the subject.
When asked if we had Egypt’s approval on a no-fly zone for Libya, the PMS said that there had been no substantive conversation on Libya today and he did not know if Egypt had expressed a view previously.
Asked if the ICC would be more lenient with Colonel Gaddafi if he left Libya, the PMS replied that the position with the ICC was as set out in the UN Resolution of 1970, which essentially said that if there were crimes committed, then they should be prosecuted.
Asked if the Winsor Review proposed the types of changes the Prime Minister wanted to see, the PMS replied that the Home Secretary had said that she would look at the report and there would need to be a period of negotiation. The PMS said we would not be setting out precisely what the pay policy should be today, but as we had made clear, pay accounted for three quarters of the cost of the police and therefore it was something we needed to look at.
Put that the message from today seemed to be that the police were no different from any other public sector workers and did the Government therefore expect them to be marching against Government cuts, the PMS said that he did not think that was the message of today; we needed to look everywhere and right across Government when considering how to tackle the deficit.
Asked if it was the wrong time to be putting such plans in place, the PMS replied that there was a large deficit and we needed to see where we could save money.