US Debt crisis
Asked for the Government’s reaction to the US deal to tackle the debt crisis, the Prime Minister’s Spokesperson (PMS) noted that the process was ongoing but said the Government welcomed progress being made.
The PMS said there had been a time of international economic uncertainty, whether in the US, the Eurozone or from commodity prices, so agreement would help stability across the global economy.
The PMS added that the lesson from international uncertainty of recent weeks has been the importance of countries taking the necessary action to build confidence.
Asked about the Government’s position in Libya, the PMS replied that the Government recognises the Transitional Government as the legitimate leading party in Libya and would be working with them.
Asked if the approach in Libya would be reviewed, the PMS said that the UK’s role is clear; we support the UN Resolution 1973 to protect civilians.
The PMS reiterated that Qadhafi must go and said that ultimately it was up to the Libyan people to decide their future.
Put that the Libyan people did not want Qadhafi to face charges of war criminality, the PMS replied that the ICC position still stands.
Asked if the assassination of the leader of the Transitional Council affected the Government’s strategy in Libya, the PMS stated that an investigation was ongoing and Government would not draw conclusions before that investigation concluded. The PMS reiterated the central aim is to defend civilians.
When asked about the timeframe for military operations in Libya, the PMS replied that we had not set out a timetable but that time was not on Qadhafi’s side and the UK Government would continue to apply pressure. The PMS referred the gathered journalists to an announcement by the Foreign Secretary last week.
Asked if Defence Secretary Liam Fox was speaking for the Government when he said that only betrayal by a member of his inner circle would topple Qadhafi, the PMS replied that Fox had said that may be the case but it was a hypothetical situation.
Asked why the approach to Libya and Syria was different, the PMS stated that the situations were different but, as the Foreign Secretary said earlier today, the acts in Syria were appalling and such violence is to be condemned and should be stopped. The PMS said that Government would continue to apply pressure where possible.
Asked about discussions with China, the PMS referred journalists to the Foreign Office and stated that the Foreign Secretary was taking action in this area.
Asked if al-Assad should go, the PMS replied that it was not for the UK Government to decide who should govern Syria. The PMS said should the violence persist then those responsible for that violence would be held to account and that no-one would be immune. The PMS stated that Assad was losing legitimacy and should make reforms or step aside.
Asked about the whereabouts of Musa Kusa, the PMS referred the journalist to the Foreign Office.
Asked if it was important to protect interpreters working in Afghanistan, the PMS replied that the circumstances in Afghanistan and Iraq differ, that troops would be on the ground until 2015 and working to strengthen governance. The PMS said that the strategy in Afghanistan should lead to securing a more peaceful life for its citizens. The PMS also made clear that while Government had a strategy on immigration and asylum, anyone who put their life on the line for the UK would not be abandoned.
Put that tours of duty in Afghanistan may last longer, the PMS said that a tour of duty was usually 6 months and there were no plans to extend tours. PMS recognised that for some roles, especially command appointments, the postings lasted for 9-12 months.
Prime Minister’s holiday
Asked about arrangements in London while the PM was on holiday, the PMS said that the PM was always in charge but that the Foreign Secretary was the Senior Cabinet Minister and would attend any daily routine meetings. The PMS confirmed that the DPM was on holiday.
Asked if the PM would have daily contact with Downing Street and the Foreign Secretary, the PMS confirmed that would be the case.
Asked if the PM would be hosting any visitors such as international leaders during his holiday, the PMS replied that he would not.
Asked how many staff the PM had with him in Italy, the PMS stated that a small group of official staff from Downing Street were with the PM to help with official business. The PMS reiterated that the PM would be updated on any matters that needed his attention. For security reasons, no further details on numbers were provided.
Put that the staff would stay in the villa with the PM, the PMS replied that that was not the case.