The Prime Minister's Spokesperson answered questions on the EU banking union, Rebekah Brooks' payout, fracking and Maria Miller in this press briefing.
Asked if the Prime Minister (PM) felt the severance payment for Rebekah Brooks was overly generous, the Prime Minister’s Spokesperson (PMS) said the PM would not routinely comment on severance payments for people working in commercial companies. It was a matter for the individual and employer.
EU banking union
Asked if the banking union deal gave the UK enough protection, the PMS referred to the Chancellor’s statement of that morning which the PM echoed. The UK wanted to make sure the single market was protected and countries that weren’t going to join the banking union, like the UK, were protected. That had been achieved.
Asked how the single market would be protected, the PMS said there would be an explicit ban on discrimination between member states in the Eurozone and those not in the single currency. Details were still being worked though, but that was a good outcome for the UK.
Questioned on how the ban would stop discrimination, the PMS said that binding rules had been agreed and safeguards had been built in. For example: having a double majority decision making mechanism; making sure there was geographical balance on the EBA chair and other appointments; an agreement to a principle of symmetry of intervention powers - which meant EBA mediation cases would be binding on both ECB and other authorities; and an agreement that the banking union only covered banking and not other financial services.
Asked what the PM thought of some Conservative MPs’ fears that this was the thin end of the wedge, the PMS reiterated that the UK had achieved its objective of safeguarding the single market and we wanted to ensure decisions were made in the interest of the UK.
Asked whether fracking would bring down energy prices in the long term, the PMS said there was potential for prices to come down. The PM set out his views on energy at the Liaison Committee earlier that week where he said the Government wanted to be part of the revolution taking place. Today’s decision meant the UK could get on board with the potential of a new source of energy.
Asked about new allegations about Maria Miller’s expenses and whether the PM still had full confidence in her, the PMS said yes he did. Asked if special advisers would receive new guidance on conversations they had with the media, the PMS said there was already a code of conduct.