The Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) began by giving a read-out of Cabinet. The main items being discussed were Lords reform and carbon budgets and emissions. The PMS said that there had been very strong support for the proposals around the Cabinet table.
Put that there had been speculation that the UK would align its emissions targets with those of the EU from 2014, the PMS replied that people would have o wait until this afternoon to find out details of the policy. Put that the Department for Business and the Treasury could have gutted the policy and it would no longer be a good thing for Britain as some were claiming, the PMS said that this was an announcement about how we could reduce our carbon emissions and the purpose of it was to put in place measures that would lead to a greener economy. People would have to wait for details.
Asked if the Prime Minister had brought any political pressure to bear to help broker a deal between BP and Rosneft, the PMS said that he did not comment on commercial transactions.
Asked about the Cabinet Office inquiry into leaked letters and whether it had gone anywhere, the PMS replied that he did not know where it had got to, but said it was a matter for the relevant Permanent Secretaries.
Asked if the Prime Minister was still committed to 0.7% on aid, the PMS said that he was; this was Government policy. Asked if it would be made law, the PMS replied that it would be made law.
Asked what happened if Cabinet Ministers rejected Government policy, the PMS said that he did not think that accurately reflected the Defence Secretary’s position. With any Government policy there was discussion across Whitehall and different departments had input into that debate. The PMS said that there was no question that it was the Government’s policy to have a 0.7% of GNI target for aid and we would introduce a Bill in due course to make that law.
When asked from which department a leak inquiry would be launched in this case, the PMS replied that he had nothing to say on a leak inquiry being instigated or started in this case. What would normally happen was that officials would consider the position and decide whether to conduct a leak inquiry.
Asked if the Prime Minister thought that leaked letters were helpful, the PMS replied that we condemned leaks in all cases. Asked if the issue was raised at Cabinet, the PMS said that it had not been raised.
When asked if the Treasury had budgeted in a rise in overseas aid beyond 2015, the PMS replied that there were spending plans set out for four years.
On whether the Prime Minister would accept that the aid budget had caused disquiet among MPs, the PMS said that this had been established policy for some time. There was a debate about this issue, but the Government’s policy was very clear; increasing spending on overseas aid was not only the right thing to do, but in our own national interest.
Asked if security issues around the Queen’s visit to Ireland had been discussed at COBRA this morning, the PMS said that we took security arrangements very seriously, but we never discussed them.
Asked if the fact the Prime Minister was attending part of the Queen’s visit to Ireland was a sign of the historic significance of the visit, the PMS said that the invitation to the Prime Minister and the Government’s wish to see a very successful visit reflected the historic nature of the visit and the very close links between the two countries.
Asked if the Prime Minister thought that it would be appropriate for Dominique Strauss-Kahn to be suspended or stepped down from his post, the PMS replied that the IMF had put in place arrangements for others to fulfil his duties while Dominique Strauss-Kahn was unable to. As the IMF had said, it was business as usual for them.
Asked if there had been any further discussions with Chris Huhne, the PMS said that Chris Huhne had been at Cabinet discussing carbon budgets. Asked if there had been any discussion about Chris Huhne’s driving situation, the PMS said there hadn’t been.