Briefing by the Prime Minister's Spokesman on: the Budget, the G8 and G20, miscellaneous items including public sector pensions and the World Cup.
Asked if it was true that the Budget was “done and dusted” on Friday, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) said that the Chancellor had said yesterday during the Andrew Marr show that the only thing he had left to do was his speech.
Asked if the Prime Minister was minded to listen to businesses regarding stronger strike legislation, the PMS said that there were no plans to change strike legislation.
Asked if the Prime Minister recognised the former-Chancellor Alistair Darling’s comments that cuts were often ideological rather than economically sensible, the PMS said that the Prime Minister had been clear that the priority at the present time was to tackle the deficit, which was not driven by ideology but by where we were and what we had to do. We had a very large structural deficit, which the Office for Budget Responsibility had estimated to be 8.8% of GDP, and we had to do something about that.
Asked what the Prime Minister thought of President Obama’s letter to G20 leaders ahead of the summit, the PMS said that we agreed with what he said about the need for flexibility, in particular the point that implementation of fiscal policy needing to reflect the particular circumstances of the countries concerned, and that surplus countries need to expand domestic sources of growth. Different countries had different starting points and for some countries, such as our own, there was a need to get on and tackle the deficit more quickly.
Asked if there was concern regarding how different countries would tackle deficit, the PMS said that we had been very clear, and the G20 had endorsed the approach when the Finance Ministers met a couple of weeks ago, that it was important to tackle deficit, and that tackling deficit effectively was important for ensuring confidence, which would underpin the recovery. Equally, it was important to take measures to support growth.
Asked if Britain had a Plan B as President Obama suggested countries should have in his letter, the PMS said that the Government set policy in the light of circumstances. The Chancellor was clear yesterday that this Budget would be a Budget for the full Parliament.
Asked what the Prime Minister’s priorities at the G8 Summit would be, the PMS said that we could give more detail during the course of the week, but key issues would be the world economy and foreign policy, including Iran.
Asked for the Prime Minister’s thoughts regarding reports on Chris Huhne’s private life, the PMS said that the Prime Minister considered it a private matter.
Asked about the Prime Minister’s meeting with Chief Police Officers this afternoon, the PMS said that it was a routine meeting where they would discuss the Government’s plans on police reform.
Asked if the Prime Minister thought that John Hutton was well placed to head a commission into public sector pensions, the PMS said that the Prime Minister clearly thought John Hutton was well placed to take on the role, which was why the Government had appointed him. John Hutton brought with him the necessary experience to do the job.
Asked if the Prime Minister had made a decision regarding his own pension, the PMS said that there was no decision as yet; it was not a priority at the moment.
Asked if the Prime Minister would watch the England v Slovenia match, the PMS said that he was sure the Prime Minister would try and see the game.