Asked what the Prime Minister’s concerns were after the weekend’s developments and whether he was satisfied all necessary steps were being taken, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) told the assembled press that the Prime Minister would be chairing a meeting of COBRA at 1230 today to make sure all necessary steps were being taken.
On whether the Prime Minister agreed with comments made by the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) that Yemen could become the next Afghanistan, the PMS replied that the Government’s approach for some time had been to work with the Yemeni Government to combat the threat of terrorism.
The Prime Minister spoke to the Yemeni President on Saturday and both leaders affirmed their common interest in fighting terrorism.
Asked if the Prime Minister had full confidence in the Government of Yemen, the PMS said that our approach was to work with that Government to deal with the threat of international terrorism.
Put that the Home Secretary seemed to differ slightly from the American point of view on whether the bombs were intended for their American targets or whether the intention was to detonate them in mid-air, the PMS replied that we had made several statements over the weekend, as and when we were in a position to do so and those reflected our latest assessments.
Asked whether the Prime Minister had spoken to President Obama over the weekend and whether that conversation had included discussion on drone attacks inside Yemen, the PMS said that the Prime Minister had spoken to the President and we had given a read-out to that phone call.
Asked when the Prime Minister was made aware of the threat and why he was chairing COBRA today when he had not done so over the weekend, the PMS said that in relation to COBRA it was not unusual for the Prime Minister to chair cross-Government meetings and he was keen to be updated on the latest information.
The PMS said that he would not get into precise timings for when the Prime Minister was updated.
Asked if the Prime Minister was concerned that East Midlands police missed the devices during their first search, the PMS replied that one of the purposes of having the meeting today was to ensure all the necessary steps were being taken.
Put that President Obama had reportedly been told of the threat before the Prime Minister, the PMS replied that decisions were taken by the local police force and they were the best placed to make judgements on the situation.
Asked if it would have been a good idea for the police to have informed the Prime Minister as soon as possible, the PMS replied that the police had analysed the situation and the information they had informed their judgements.
Asked when the Prime Minister was informed about problems with cargo entering Britain, the PMS said that he would not get into a discussion about intelligence matters.
Asked whether the Prime Minister had been discussing new threats from Yemen with members of the security services after John Sawyer had commented publicly on the matter, the PMS replied that those comments were on the record but we hadn’t provided a commentary on them at the time and that would continue to be the approach.
Asked if the Government had taken threats concerning cargo seriously, the PMS said that all threats were taken seriously and we kept all these matters under review at all times.
On whether the Prime Minister was concerned that insufficient attention had been paid to al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the PMS said that we had been working very closely with the Yemeni Government for a number of years. The PMS added that that work continued to be a priority.
Asked what the Prime Minister thought of Michael O’Leary’s comments that security had been excessive, the PMS said that our response to this incident and at all times, was to ensure that the security arrangements were appropriate. Clearly there was an impact on passengers, and ensuring passengers could flow freely through airports was one of our objectives. However, another key objective was ensuring they were safe.
Asked about Control Orders and when an outcome was expected, the PMS said that there was a review ongoing and advised people to speak to the Home Office about timing.
Asked if the current situation would have any bearing on the Prime Minister using commercial aircraft, the PMS said that the position in regard to the Prime Minister’s travel had not changed; we did not comment on specifics and took all relevant advice into account.
Asked about reports that the UK Government had turned down help on security matters for the London Olympics from the US Government, the PMS said he had not seen the report.
Asked whether aircraft carriers and the servicing of aircraft carriers would be discussed at the Anglo-French Summit tomorrow, the PMS said that defence issues would be discussed. On the issue of aircraft carriers in particular, the PMS said no decision had been made.