Press release

Number 10 Press Briefing - Afternoon From 9 November 2011

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

From the Prime Minister's spokesperson on: FIFA poppy ruling, UKBA and Iran.

FIFA poppy ruling

The Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) informed journalists that the Prime Minister would be writing to FIFA this afternoon about their decision not to allow the English and Welsh football teams to wear poppies on their shirts. Asked if the PM thought the England players and manager should ignore FIFA, the PMS said we were trying to get FIFA to reconsider its position. Asked if the Spanish had any objections to wearing the poppy, the PMS said he was not aware of any objections from any nations. Asked if FIFA had asked for a letter from the Prime Minister, the PMS said the matter came up at Prime Minister’s Questions when the Prime Minister was asked if he would write, and he said he would. The PMS added that the Sports Minister Hugh Robertson had already written to FIFA at the start of the week. Asked about our relationship with FIFA, the MPS said the Prime Minister’s views on FIFA were well known.


Asked if the Prime Minister endorsed a policy of routinely not checking biometric data on passports, the PMS said that the Home Secretary had been clear that she had signed off a change in the way the UK Border Agency should operate which allowed them greater discretion, and The Border Agency took a decision to go further than what was sanctioned by ministers. The PMS added that there was a question that needed to be answered about how instructions were communicated down the line and why UKBA staff were going further than agreed with ministers. That was why we were having an investigation. Asked if it was time to publish all relevant documents, the PMS said all documents would be made available to the inquiries. Asked if the Prime Minister was confident that no Home Office minister sanctioned UKBA staff going further than the pilot measures, the PMS said the Home Secretary refused a request to go further. Asked if Immigration Minister Damian Green had any conversations with UKBA staff that they could have interpreted as an indication they could go further, the PMS repeated that the Home Secretary had given a very clear instruction and that there should have been no doubt that she did not want to see the changes go further than she had agreed. He added that there were three investigations ongoing and that we would wait for them to report. Asked if the Immigration Minister knew the Home Secretary had instructed UKBA staff not to go further, the PMS said it was normal practice for decisions to be copied to all ministers within the relevant department. Asked if the PM was surprised that UKBA officials were instructed to reduce security checks before they could request more staff on duty, the PMS said that was a matter for the investigation. Asked if there was any intention to speed up the final reports of the investigation, the PMS said no.


Asked for the Prime Minister’s view on Iran, the PMS said the Government’s position had been set out by the Foreign Secretary earlier that day.