Asked what the Prime Minister hoped to gain from the Euro Summit, the Prime Minister’s spokesman (PMS) said that by going in advance the Prime Minister would be able to feed into the Eurozone meeting, rather than going afterwards and possibly having to unpick what had been agreed. She explained that the second option could be damaging for market confidence which is why the Prime Minister believes that this is the right way round to attend.
Asked whether it would affect our ability to influence decisions if the Prime Minster goes abroad immediately after the meeting (especially if there might be a second summit on the Saturday) the PMS said that firstly, we did not yet know whether there would be further meetings but that ultimately it would be for the Eurozone to sort out; and secondly that the Prime Minster would be feeding in wherever he was. Asked whether there were likely to be further meetings for the PM to feed into, the PMS said that there was the G20 in Cannes but that she could not speculate on other meetings.
Asked whether the Prime Minister would regard it as damaging if no details were worked out in today’s meeting, she said that we were not under any illusions about the difficulties, good progress was made over the weekend and there was the meeting this evening for which we should await the outcome. She explained that we wanted to see a package in place before G20 next week.
Asked the Prime Minister’s view on the possibility that Berlusconi would stand down, the PMS explained that this was still speculation.
Asked what the Prime Minister’s key priorities were for the Eurozone, she explained that this had been very clearly set out by the Prime Minister in his statement to Parliament on Monday; that the Eurozone needed to increase the bailout fund, reach a solution on Greece and work on the recapitalisation of the banks. Ultimately, she said, the Prime Minister wanted the Eurozone to reach a satisfactory conclusion that is robust and sustainable.
Asked whether there were any plans for a meeting of the ten European countries not in the Eurozone, she said that she was not aware of any.
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
Asked whether the Prime Minister would be late for the Queen at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), the PMS explained that he would be there for the key meetings. Asked why the PM thinks CHOGM is important, she said that the Commonwealth is an important institution and that we would be looking for areas of reform which would be discussed. Asked which areas specifically, she pointed to royal succession.
Asked whether the Prime Minister had a view on mandatory sentencing for 15-18 year olds for knife crime, she said that any crime with a knife is deplorable and explained that there is legislation going through Parliament currently which will see the introduction of mandatory sentences for over 18-year olds. She also explained that the Courts already have discretion to put under 18s in custody if they deem it appropriate. Asked whether the Prime Minister was ruling out mandatory sentencing for under-18s, she said that the Government’s position was clearly set out in the Bill currently going through Parliament.
Asked whether the Prime Minister thought that companies should be allowed to sack people without explanation, the PMS said that the Government was committed to employment law reform and the Coalition Agreement stated that employers and employees can have maximum flexibility while protecting fairness, providing the competitive environment we need for enterprise and growth.
Asked whether the Prime Minister had full confidence in Vince Cable, the PMS said indeed he does. She said that Vince Cable had made a statement and that the case was closed.
Imprisonment for public protection
Asked whether an announcement was expected shortly on imprisonment for public protection, the PMS pointed out that the Prime Minister had said we would review them and that review is ongoing.
Asked why the Prime Minister was unable to attend the Earth Summit in Rio in June, the PMS said that it falls at the same time as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and that the Prime Minister would be attending that. She explained that there will be senior representation from government, with Caroline Spellman leading the delegation and that we would be pushing for an ambitious outcome from those talks.