Briefing by the Prime Minister's Spokesman on: President Sarkozy visit, Government employee headcount, immigration, EU Summit, Budget and the World Cup.
President Sarkozy Visit
Asked for the menu for the Prime Minister and President’s lunch, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) told the assembled press that they would be eating roast fillet of Cornish sea bass, parsley potatoes and seasonal vegetables followed by a baked lemon tart and berry fruit compote. There would also be French wine.
When it was queried what Mrs Cameron would be wearing, the PMS confirmed that it would be an Emelia Wickstead dress and Jimmy Choo heels. However he was unable to confirm what Mrs Sarkozy would be wearing.
Government Employee Headcount
Asked why a headcount had been carried out by the Cabinet Office, the PMS responded that this was information that had not been centrally collated before and that it covered all departments and agencies. It was right that the Government should know how many people it was employing at any one time.
When it was hinted that this headcount might be a prelude to Civil Service cuts, the PMS said it was about being more transparent and giving people the ability to scrutinise what the Government was doing and who it was employing. However, he reiterated that a number of Government Ministers as well as the Prime Minister had been clear that, over time, they wanted headcount numbers to come down.
When pointing to the day’s Financial Times, it was suggested that a cap might be phased in over the next five years. The PMS said that there will be an announcement on the migration cap, and the press should wait for this.
Asked if the Prime Minister would confirm which were the five UK banks selected by the EU to undergo ‘stress tests’, the PMS said he could not, but that this was European-level work that had been going on for some time and the results of the stress test would be published.
Asked whether the FSA stress tests raised concerns about any UK institutions, the PMS replied that the press should speak to the FSA about their stress tests.
Asked whether the Prime Minister would be in contact with the Chancellor over the weekend about the Budget, the PMS said there had been meetings over the past couple of weeks and that there was a discussion about the Budget at Cabinet earlier that week.
Questioned whether the Chancellor would share details of the Budget with the Prime Minister, the PMS said that he would.
When asked whether purdah would be re-instated for Budgets, the PMS responded that he was not aware it had ever gone away.
When it was suggested that Treasury spokespeople sometimes commented on the Budget ahead of publication, the PMS said Members of Parliament would be first to know the details.
Questioned how interested the Prime Minister was in football, the PMS replied that he was very keen on watching the World Cup.
Asked whether he had watched matches other than those played by England, the PMS said he did not have a list of all the games the Prime Minister had watched.