Asked if the Prime Minister had confidence in Baroness Ashton after failing to back a no-fly zone in Libya, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) said yes.
Asked if the Government was pushing for rebels to be supplied with arms, the PMS said that the Foreign Secretary had set out the Government’s position this morning: there was currently an international arms embargo in place and there would be implications to lifting that. We would not rule anything out but this was not currently something we were pushing for. Our focus was on the diplomatic route and we remained in discussion with international colleagues.
Asked if there was a sense of urgency in terms of making a decision about what action to take, the PMS said that the Prime Minister had set out his view on Friday at the European Council and would be making a statement to the House of Commons this afternoon. There was concern that the situation in Libya was getting worse, which was why the Prime Minister was focused on putting his argument to international colleagues.
Put that one of the conditions the Government had set for a no-fly zone had been met as there was now support in the region, the PMS said that the Arab League meeting yesterday showed that Gaddafi did not have support in that region.
Asked if a no-fly zone could go into action straight away if an agreement was reached, the PMS said that work was still ongoing. The conclusion of the NATO meeting last week was that work on a no-fly zone should continue.
Asked if the Chief of Defence Staff had reported to the Prime Minister on the work he had been commissioned to do, the PMS said that there had been regular meetings of the National Security Council as well as some COBRA meetings and work was ongoing. However, we would not get into commenting on particular work that had been commissioned.
Asked if the Prime Minister had told the Cabinet that a UN Security Council resolution was needed to enforce a no-fly zone, the PMS said that he didn’t comment on Cabinet discussions. Our position, as set out by the Foreign Secretary last week, was that we needed a clear legal basis.
Asked about the next diplomatic mission to Libya, the PMS said that it was still our intention to continue talking to opposition figures and at some point send a further team to Benghazi. We would not provide a running commentary as to when that would happen.
Asked if the Prime Minister had spoken to the Japanese Prime Minister today, the PMS said that there hadn’t been any direct contact between the two but the Foreign Secretary had spoken to the Japanese Foreign Minister over the weekend. We were in close contact with the Embassy and the Prime Minister was being kept up to date.
Put that the Health Secretary had said yesterday that there would be minor changes to the language of the Health Bill but not the actual policy, the PMS said that Andrew Lansley had set out the position yesterday. As we put the Bill through Parliament we would look carefully at how the legislation delivered the reforms we wanted to achieve, as with any Bill.