Press release

Number 10 Press Briefing - Morning From 1 April 2011

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

From the Prime Minister's spokesperson on: Libya, Ivory Coast, Irish bailout and Health Reform.

Libya

Asked what he could confirm in terms of rumours about further defectors, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) told the assembled press that there was not a great deal he could tell people, other than that there seemed to be a great deal of speculation around.

Asked specifically about Mohammed Ismail, the PMS replied that we had been very clear over the past two weeks that we had been having contact with Libyan officials, but we had not been providing a commentary on that and we would not be starting now.

Asked if it was the Government’s position not to get into any plea-bargaining with the Gaddafi regime, before Gaddafi went, the PMS replied that that was the Government’s position. The PMS said that we were sending a very clear message when we did have contact with people, and that was that there should be an end to violence and that Gaddafi needed to go.

Asked if any deals had been offered to the people the Government had been talking to, the PMS replied that there were no deals. Once people were in the UK, they were subject to UK law.

On whether Moussa Koussa had provided useful information so far, the PMS replied that the discussions were continuing, but he would not be able to go into any details.

When asked if it was the Government’s position that people around Gaddafi should also go, the PMS said that we had sent a very clear message to Gaddafi and the people in that regime. In his press conference yesterday, the Prime Minister had urged people around Gaddafi to leave the regime.

Asked if it was the Government’s view that Saif Gaddafi could not be part of the future leadership of Libya, the PMS replied that ultimately, the future of Libya and the future Government of Libya was something that needed to be judged by the Libyan people. We had a very clear view about the present regime.

On whether there was any link between the arrival of Moussa Koussa and the expelling of five Libyan diplomats, the PMS said there was no link.

Asked if there was a date and location set for the next Contact Group meeting, the PMS said it would meet in Doha, but he was not aware of a set date. The PMS advised people to speak to the Foreign Office about preparations.

Asked what Moussa Koussa’s status was in terms of asylum and what the Government’s position was on potential extradition to other countries, the PMS replied that we would respond to any requests we got on extradition, but he was not aware of any. On his status, the PMS said he was not in a position to comment on that.

Asked if the Prime Minister had sympathy with comments made by Boris Johnson on coalition air strikes playing into the hands of Colonel Gaddafi, the PMS replied that there was a broad international coalition, involving support from Arab countries. We had been very conscious of the need to bring Arab countries into that and were responding in the first place to a request from the Arab League.

Asked if the Prime Minister was concerned that bombing Tripoli was having a counter-productive effect, the PMS said that we had some clear objectives and were working with NATO to achieve them.

Ivory Coast

Asked what the Government’s message was to Laurent Gbagbo, the PMS said that our message across recent events was that we encouraged people to respond with reform and not repression. In terms of events in Ivory Coast, we were following them closely, and as the PMS understood it, the Foreign Secretary would be meeting with the chairman of the African Union to discuss the issue.

Irish Bailout

Asked if the UK would have to pay more money into the bailout fund, the PMS replied that a multilateral package had been put in place, which involved the IMF, the EU and bilateral assistance from the UK. We had received no requests for further assistance.

Health Reform

Asked if the Prime Minister agreed with comments made by the Health Secretary in a letter to a newspaper on why the health reforms did not need changing, the PMS said that we had some clear reforms and intended to implement them.