Press release

Number 10 Press Briefing - Morning From 9 December 2011

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

From the Prime Minister's spokesperson on the European Council meeting.

European Council

Asked what it was that the Prime Minister objected to last night, the Prime Minister’s Spokeswoman (PMS) said the Prime Minister had given a press conference this morning when he said that one of the clear objectives he had was to ensure that Britain’s national interests were protected and safeguarded.

Asked if there was a specific point about financial markets to which the Prime Minister had objected, the PMS said that financial services were a key part of the single market; that was one area we wanted to ensure was protected and that was why the decision was made.

Asked if the Prime Minister thought it was a good result for Britain, the PMS said the Prime Minister set out to ensure that the Eurozone was sorting out its own problems and there had been progress. Secondly, the Prime Minister wanted to safeguard the British national interest and he had done that.

Asked how often the Prime Minister was in touch with the Deputy Prime Minister, and that the Foreign Secretary had said this morning that they had been in touch and had an agreed strategy before the negotiation, the PMS said she had nothing to add to what the Foreign Secretary had said.

Asked again about financial services regulation, the PMS said the key objective was for the Eurozone to solve its problems, and that was what the discussions had been about; those countries had set out rules they had agreed. Now they had to discuss how those rules would be implemented. As far as we were concerned, the Prime Minister had been clear about his objectives. It was the Prime Minister’s view that to safeguard our interests we would not be part of the agreements that were made.

Asked if financial services remained unchanged since yesterday, the PMS said yes. She added that meetings were still ongoing to discuss the details but that the Prime Minister had been very clear that the European Union institutions were there for the 27. She added that there were different groupings and agreements within the European Union, like Schengen and NATO, and the UK’s defence agreement with France. That does not necessarily reflect the UK’s position in the European Union, we’re still one of the 27.

Asked if there was no more prospect of a referendum than was the case 48 hours ago, the PMS said we had an Act which sets out the position on a referendum and that is based on whether there were any further powers going from the UK to Brussels; and that was not the case.

Asked if France and Germany would not try to get rid of the UK, the PMS referred to her previous answer. Asked if the UK could be blamed if the Euro failed and EU institutions had not been allowed to enforce the stability pact, the PMS said that the aim of the European Council meeting had been to sort out the Eurozone problems and they had made some progress on that. The Prime Minister’s position before the meeting was very clear: he wanted to safeguard Britain’s national interest and he had done that.

Asked if the Prime Minister was confident that progress had been made, the PMS said we want to see progress so that there was no longer this chilling effect, which the Prime Minister has referred to, on the economy. The talks were still ongoing. The Eurozone had set out the rules and now they would talk about how those rules would be implemented.

Asked if the Prime Minister was disappointed by the markets’ reaction to the deal, the PMS said we do not comment on the markets but the PM had been very clear about the decision that had been taken. Asked if there would be a meeting of the 17 Eurozone countries, the PMS said she believed there would indeed be such a meeting and details would be confirmed later today.

Asked if there would be an Anglo-Hungarian summit today, the PMS said there were no plans for one.

Asked if the Prime Minister would meet his backbenchers at Chequers tonight, the PMS said she did not think there were plans.

Asked if the Prime Minister would meet the Deputy Prime Minister this weekend, the PMS said he regularly talks to the Deputy Prime Minister, and that she would not comment on any specific meetings.