Briefing by the Prime Minister's Spokesman on: BP oil leak, Deputy Prime Minister and Afghanistan.
BP Oil Leak
Asked for the Prime Minister’s view on the ongoing situation surrounding the oil leak, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) told the assembled press that the Prime Minister’s view was that this was an environmental tragedy and understandably, many people were angry about what had happened and very emotional too. She said it was a matter for BP to do what it could to try and bring an end to this problem.
From the UK’s point of view, we were in regular contact with the company and also the US administration and through the Department for Energy and Climate Change, we had offered to assist in any way we could.
Put that the UK Government might share concerns over the language being used by the White House, the PMS said that it was understandable that the people directly affected by the oil spill were angry and emotional about the situation, as well as the broader impact the spill was having.
Asked if the Prime Minister agreed with the view Lord Tebbit had put forward, the PMS replied that it was important to remember that BP was a global company. The impact as a whole would be broader than just the environmental impact.
On whether the Prime Minister would be discussing the language used by the US administration with the President, the PMS said that President Obama was the first leader to speak to the Prime Minister when he walked into No10 and relations continued to be good. They would continue to have regular phone calls and the PMS added that there would be a phone call soon to discuss a broad range of issues, including BP.
Asked whether the Prime Minister thought that the President was being emotional or over-emotional on this, the PMS said that there were many people who felt angry about what had happened, but she would not comment specifically on what the President had said.
When asked how well the Prime Minister thought BP had handled the situation, the PMS replied that there were lessons to be learnt, but what was important now was that the situation was dealt with as quickly as possible.
Asked if the Prime Minister thought that undue pressure was being applied to BP, the PMS said that as well as this being an environmental tragedy, the impact could be a lot broader than that. So it was important that BP found a solution as soon as possible.
Asked in what sense the tragedy was broader than its environmental elements, the PMS replied that she had been clear on the fact that this could be broader than just an environmental impact in the locality of the Gulf of Mexico.
On whether the Prime Minister had sympathy with British pensioners who could be affected by the situation, the PMS said she would not get into commenting on that; it was a matter for the company. Asked if it was helpful if other politicians commented on it, the PMS said that it was a matter for them.
Asked if representatives from the UK Government had spoken to the US administration about the kind of language being used, the PMS said that she was not aware of any specific interventions, but there were ongoing conversations at an official level as was routine.
Asked if the Prime Minister had spoken to President Obama specifically on this issue, the PMS said that people should expect a readout of any such conversation, adding that there had been no readout yet.
Asked when a call between the Prime Minister and the President would take place, the PMS said that there was likely to be a call at the weekend. It would be a routine call and they would discuss a range of issues.
Deputy Prime Minister
Asked what role the Deputy Prime Minister would play while representing the UK abroad, the PMS said that the Deputy Prime Minister was a senior representative of the Government and people would expect him to fill that role abroad on occasion.
Asked whether the money pledged by the Prime Minister to help combat IEDs was new, the PMS said that it was additional money that was new for that purpose.