From the Prime Minister's spokesperson on: Anglo-French Summit, European Council and housing benefit.
Asked if the subject of defence would be the main item on the agenda at the Anglo-French Summit next week, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) said that defence would be on the agenda, but the Chancellor was also attending so other issues would also be discussed.
Asked if the video conference that took place last night between the Prime Minister, President Obama, President Sarkozy and Chancellor Merkel was a new thing, the PMS said no; they regularly spoke in this way, and yesterday they discussed the G20.
Asked if the Prime Minister had made any progress overnight on the European budget, the PMS said that the Prime Minister had spoken to various people yesterday. His focus was on seeing if we could reduce the annual budget for next year from 6%.
Asked if the Prime Minister was disappointed that it looked likely he would be unable to reduce next year’s budget, the PMS said that our focus was on preventing the 6% proposal, which was supported by the European Parliament and the Commission, from going ahead.
Put that that Prime Minister had recently said that he wanted to freeze or reduce the budget, the PMS said that in an ideal world we thought the budget should be frozen or reduced, but the majority of countries were net recipients of this budget not net contributors, and this was something that was dealt with by qualified majority voting.
Asked if the Prime Minister agreed with Boris Johnson’s comments that changes to housing benefit could result in “Kosovo-style social cleansing”, the PMS said that the Prime Minister did not agree with what Boris Johnson said or the way he said it.
Asked if the two would meet up and discuss it, the PMS said that he was sure if the Mayor wanted to have a discussion then a discussion would take place; they met from time to time.
Asked if the Prime Minister would meet with critics of the housing benefit changes, the PMS said that the Communities Department was leading on this policy and you would expect them to deal with it. There would be a White Paper and a Bill, which meant that there would be discussions taking place throughout the process.