EU Justice Opt out
The PMS detailed the main Government business for the day, before answering queries about the Government opting out of the proposed EU Justice powers. The PMS said that journalists should await the Home Secretary’s statement on the issue, where she would set out the Government’s position.
Detailing the circumstances around the provision of care for Malala Yousafzai, the PMS said that the UK had offered its help in the form of specialist care and the Pakistani Government had accepted the offer. She would receive care at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham and the Pakistani Government would be paying all costs for her transit to the UK and her care whilst in hospital.
When addressing questions around the Scottish referendum, the PMS said that Scotland was facing its most important questions for many years, which would have irreversible consequences. The PM had been asked to deliver a referendum and had agreed with the Scottish Government that there should be a single question, it would take place before the end of 2014 and that the Scottish Government would be given power to allow 16 and 17 year olds to vote. The agreement was specific to the referendum and the Government had no plans to extend the vote to 16 and 17 year olds on any other vote. The PM had made it clear he wanted an earlier referendum date, but did not want it to be a barrier to the agreement. The Scottish Government had committed to setting a referendum question with advice from the Electoral Commission. It should be up to the Scottish people to decide their future and the PM had been clear on the importance and benefits of the Union. Answering a question on the upcoming referendum campaign, the PMS said that the idea of a television debate with Alex Salmond had not been raised and there were no plans to stage one.
Answering questions on Andrew Mitchell’s discussions with West Midlands Police Federation, the PMS said that the PM had made his position clear at the time of the incident. Andrew Mitchell had apologised to the police officer in question and the apology had been accepted. This was an isolated incident and had been dealt with by the parties involved.
UK in EU
In response to questions over the UK leaving the EU or staging a referendum on its membership, the PMS said that there were many benefits from remaining in the EU and the PM wanted to see an integrated single market, but he was not happy with the status quo. In this regard the position had not changed, but as integration progresses there would also be opportunities for us to look at our relationship with the EU and what was best for the UK’s national interests. The priority for the time being was to address the issues facing the Eurozone. The current situation had a chilling effect on the UK economy and it needed to be resolved. Asked what the PM’s aims were for the upcoming EU Council, the PMS said that banking union and growth would be discussed and the PM wanted to see progress on the single market.