The Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) told the assembled journalists that the Prime Minister spoke to President Barroso last night about the free trade agreement with Korea and that it had made progress over night, and that we were hopeful that a deal would be signed off today. The PMS also informed the assembled lobby that the Prime Minister would raise the issue of Pakistan in a discussion taking place this morning on the EU’s place in the world. The PMS said that we were keen to see progress in opening up markets to Pakistan.
Asked whether the Prime Minister supported delaying a decision on Trident until after the next election, the PMS said that the decision on Trident had already been taken and that the Coalition agreement set out the position - that we would maintain the nuclear deterrent, but that we were examining the issue of value for money.
Asked when the examination would reach a conclusion and an announcement would be made on what form the replacement would take, the PMS said that there was a value for money review underway, which would be based on expert and military advice, and that the review should be seen in the context of the spending review and strategic defence review.
Put that the decision was not going to be delayed until after the next election, the PMS reiterated that the decision had already been taken: that we would maintain the nuclear deterrent.
In response to repeated questions about timing and delay, the PMS said that we would maintain a nuclear deterrent, and that as part of the value for money review, we would be looking at the profile of expenditure.
Asked whether the Government was considering the argument that a delay to spending could cost more in the long-run, the PMS said that we would be considering value for money.
Asked whether an effective deterrent was a continuous at sea one, the PMS said that the Prime Minister had made his views known on this and that we were committed to an effective nuclear deterrent.
TV Licence Freeze
Asked for the Prime Minister’s reaction to the freeze in the TV licence fee, the PMS said that the Government welcomed the proposals and that there would be no increase in the licence fee on 1 April 2011, but that a decision about 2012/13 would be taken as part of the next funding settlement.