The Prime Minister's Spokesperson (PMS) answered questions on Europe, Algeria and Mali, and the PAC report on Andrew Mitchell.
The PMS confirmed that the PM would be making his postponed speech on Europe on Wednesday in central London. The speech was postponed because of incidents in Algeria. The arrangements in London were the best fit for the PM’s schedule and the PM would be attending PMQs in the usual way. Addressing questions on the speech itself, the PMS advised journalists to wait until Wednesday for the content. There was an active debate across the EU and in the UK, and the PM’s speech would address both audiences.
Algeria and Mali
Questioned on the recent incidents in Algeria, the PMS said that the PM had spoken to his Algerian counterpart on Sunday. He had chaired a COBR meeting that morning where he received an update from the ground and the arrangements for repatriation of Britons killed in the attack. The PM would make a statement to the House of Commons that afternoon. Addressing questions on military intervention in North Africa, the PMS said that there was no change in the support offered to the French in Mali - there would be no British troops in combat roles and we were best placed to help with intelligence and logistical support. More broadly, military intervention should be regionally led. Answering questions on the PM’s opinion of the way the Algerians had handled the incident, the PMS said that the terrorists were responsible for the loss of life. The PM thanked the Algerians for their coordination. There were difficult decisions facing the Algerian authorities in what was a very fluid situation. The PM had said it would have been his clear preference to be consulted in advance of an Algerian operation, but there should be no doubt that the terrorists were responsible. The Government would work with its international partners to bring the terrorists to justice.
Asked about the PAC report on the Andrew Mitchell, and whether the PM would allow the advisor on the Ministerial Code to launch his own investigation, the PMS said that the PM believed the Cabinet Secretary’s inquiry was the right review at the right time and he supported its conclusions. There was no plan to open the review again and there was an ongoing police investigation. The independent advisor could be asked to undertake an inquiry if the PM requested it. Asked when the PM would respond to the PAC’s recommendation that the independent advisor should be able to launch an inquiry without the PM’s invitation, the PMS said the Government would respond in due course.