Asked if the Prime Minister had seen the David Laws report, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) told the assembled press that the Prime Minister had not seen the report as it was being published at 11am.
On whether the Prime Minister or Deputy Prime Minister would be present in the House for David Law’s statement, the PMS replied that both the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister would be at the Olympic Park.
Asked whether the Prime Minister had discussed different options for the pace of withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, the PMS replied that the Prime Minister had lots of meetings with the military and we did not provide briefing on all those meetings. President Karzai had announced in March, the first phase of security transition in Afghanistan. That began the process of transition which would be completed by the end of 2014.
The PMS said that the Prime Minister had been clear that UK forces would no longer be in a combat role or in present numbers by 2015 and he had also said, as had the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) that it may be possible to reduce troop numbers this year, but he added, no decision had been taken yet.
Put that the CDS had said yesterday that we would not know the full effect of the troop ‘surge’ or of Usama Bin laden’s death until the autumn and was it not premature to say now that we could withdraw troops, the PMS reiterated that the Prime Minister had said that it may be possible to start pulling troops out by the end of this year.
Asked if the Prime Minister would support a live television debate to help determine who should be the next President of FIFA, the PMS replied that the Prime Minister’s view was that anything that allowed the candidates to set out their views on the future of football would be a good thing.
Put that the Chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee had called for Sepp Blatter to give evidence in front of the committee, the PMS said that it was ultimately a matter for Sepp Blatter. Anything that would encourage FIFA to go out and explain what their plans were for football would be something we’d recommend.
Policing and Crime Bill
Asked what would happen to the Bill after it was voted against in the Lords, the PMS said it would come back to the House of Commons; the policy was very clearly set out in the Coalition document and that was the Government’s policy.
Asked if the Government had been warned in advance that this might happen, the PMS replied that clearly we knew the vote was happening.
Asked about allied support for setting up an independent radio station and funding for police uniforms, the PMS replied that the Prime Minister had said that we would be providing additional support to the INTC, including police body armour and help and advice on setting up an independent broadcasting service.
When asked what evidence there was to suggest that the Libyan conflict would be anything other than ‘long and messy’, the PMS replied that at the meeting today, the shared judgment was that the action we were taking was having an impact and the pressure being put on the regime was having an effect.
Put that the Qadhafi forces had not retreated much, the PMS replied that our objective was to continue with military, economic and diplomatic pressure and the clear sense from the meeting today was that that was having an effect.