Asked about the Prime Minister’s assessment of the economic situation and whether he was reassured by the markets, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) referred the assembled press to the position set out by the Chancellor in his article that morning.
The PMS pointed out that clearly the UK was not immune from global events and the instability seen around the world.
The PMS added that Government had been engaging very closely with international partners and that the Prime Minister and the Chancellor had both spoken to their opposite numbers in various countries and to policymakers in Europe and America and indeed around the world in order to help formulate a global response to the crisis.
The PMS said that the Chancellor had set out the measures that we needed to take in order to do that effectively, the first of which was to have credible plans in place to deal with excessive deficits, to improve competitiveness and strengthen banking systems, but as the Chancellor had made clear, a global crisis of this kind could not be solved by countries acting alone and Eurozone countries needed to act swiftly and deliver on their promises.
In answer to whether the Prime Minister or the Chancellor had any more calls planned for that day, the PMS said that he wasn’t aware of any further calls planned at that time and pointed press to the G7 call the previous evening involving the Chancellor.
In response to questions concerning the date of the next G7 meeting, the PMS made clear that that would be a decision for the French, as holders of the presidency, but that he understood the next scheduled meeting would be in September. The PMS also pointed to the series of calls that had been taking place at G7 level and repeated that officials had been working with officials in other countries, but at that moment, no decision had been taken on a meeting.
Asked whether he thought the ECB’s statement met the Chancellor’s criteria for Eurozone institutions to act swiftly, the PMS referred the press to the Chancellor’s comments that European institutions needed to do whatever was necessary to maintain stability, but there was more to be done. Eurozone countries would need to accept that monetary union would lead to greater fiscal integration and implement structural reforms to support growth, but the first thing that all countries needed to do was stick to their promises and make sure they were reducing their deficits.
Put that the Chancellor had also stated the need to consider euro bonds actively, the PMS said that the Chancellor made the point that the action that was being taken could only be a bridge to a more permanent solution and that a more permanent solution would require things like greater fiscal integration in the Eurozone.
Asked about the Secretary of State for Business Vince Cable’s comments the previous weekend and a ‘Plan A+’, the PMS said that ‘Plan A’, if people wished to call it that, always included a plan for growth. The PMS added that dealing with the deficit and the fiscal situation was an essential prerequisite for growth, but in addition we’d always been very clear that there were other reforms that needed to take place to support growth, including reforms of the planning system, of business regulation and cuts in corporation tax. We would have more to say in the autumn about what we’re going to do to boost growth.
Asked how confident Government was that the UK was not at any risk, the PMS said that as a result of the action the Government had taken to deal with the deficit we had seen the UK taken off the negative outlook and seen our AAA rating reaffirmed. The PMS said that as the Chancellor had made clear that morning it was important for governments to get ahead of the curve and that meant taking decisive action, setting out clear plans and following through on those plans and that was what the Government was doing.
Asked whether the Prime Minister had contemplated cutting short his holiday at any point, the PMS pointed to the Deputy Prime Minister’s comments that morning where he had said that the Government continued to function in the same way it did during the rest of the year. The PMS said that the Prime Minister has a holiday and that as everyone knew, when the Prime Minister is on holiday he takes an office with him and is in constant contact with his office in London.
When asked whether the Prime Minister had spoken to Boris Johnson, the PMS said that he wasn’t aware of any call with Boris Johnson but that the Prime Minister had spoken to the Home Secretary and the acting Commissioner of the Met Police the previous day. The PMS added that the Home Secretary had spoken to the Deputy Mayor.
Asked whether the Prime Minister thought that the Mayor should come back, the PMS responded that there was a Deputy Mayor. The PMS also said that the Home Secretary had said that she would be cutting short her holiday and would be having meetings with the Met Police that afternoon.
Asked whether the Home Secretary had discussed her plans with the Prime Minister, the PMS said that the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister had spoken the previous day.
Asked who the Home Secretary was seeing, the PMS said he thought she was seeing Tim Godwin.
When asked about the Prime Minister’s reaction to a second night of rioting, the PMS told the assembled press that the violence seen in Tottenham and other parts of London was completely and utterly unacceptable, it had nothing to do with the case of Mr Duggan and the Government was very clear that those responsible for that violence and looting would be made to face the consequences of their actions. He added that the police had already arrested something like 160 people.
In response to a question on whether the police had done enough, the PMS said we would pay tribute to the work that the police and the other emergency services had done in the past couple of days and that they deserve our thanks for putting themselves in harms way. The PMS added that there was a police investigation underway into the events of the weekend and said that we should wait for that to conclude.
Asked if the Prime Minister thought the 1975 referendum on the EU was the end of the matter, the PMS said the position on the EU referendum was as set out in the Coalition Agreement.
Asked if the Prime Minister would welcome a parliamentary debate on hanging, the PMS said that as he understood that system the public could put forward ideas for things that might be the subject of debate at parliament.
Put that it was important for the political class to listen to the public, the PMS said that clearly it was important for the political class or governments to listen to the public and that is why Government had put that system in place.
Asked if the Prime Minister was shocked by the series of reports suggesting quangos are continuing to hire people at a rate of knots, the PMS pointed to the very clear rules in place setting out that quangos should only be recruiting people if they were real frontline requirements and that there was a process in place where quangos needed to check with the relevant Secretary of State to get them to decide whether or not to recruit somebody.
The PMS said specific questions should be addressed to relevant departments.
In response to questions on whether the Prime Minister had approached Bill Bratton to lead the Met, the PMS referred assembled press to the recent Downing Street statement on this subject.