The Eurozone, advisors, national debt, Hillsborough, embassy security and Scotland were discussed at this press briefing.
Asked what the PM’s view on President Barroso’s State of the Union address was, the PMS said that the Government shared much of President Barroso’s analysis on the challenges facing the EU and the roots of the crisis. The Government agrees that there needs to be urgent action to deal with these issues, the most urgent issue being the resolution of the Eurozone crisis. In the longer term the Government wants to see closer economic and fiscal integration in the Eurozone. Whatever happens we need to ensure we defend Britain’s national interest.
Asked whether it would be in Britain’s national interest to have closer ties with Europe, the PMS said that one of the greatest benefits of being part of the European Union is the single market. We are very clear that we want to ensure that it is maintained and completed.
Asked how concerned the Government was about the Banking Union, the PMS said that the Treasury had already addressed the issue. We have long been arguing for Banking Union as it is an essential part of a stable currency in the Eurozone and the ECB is the right organisation to take on the central supervisory role for the Eurobanks. Whatever proposals are put forward they must respect the integrity of the single market for the whole of the European Union and we would be a part of discussions going forward to secure Britain’s national interests.
Asked when the PM had asked the Cabinet Secretary to look into Greg Barker’s relationships with advisors to the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the PMS said that the PM had been clear that the issue had been investigated by the Cabinet Secretary.
Asked whether it was still the Government’s target that national debt as a proportion of GDP will fall by 2015/16, the PMS said that the Government is committed to its fiscal policy which is delivering a reduction in the deficit and credibility in the markets. That means we are able to make further reforms for lending to businesses and guarantees. The policy was set out in the Budget.
Asked whether the PM thought Sir Irvine Patnick was worthy of keeping his knighthood given his statements on the Hillsborough tragedy, the PMS said that the PM had been setting out his position on Hillsborough that afternoon and his focus had been on the distress suffered by the families involved.
Asked whether the FCO was enhancing security at embassies in light of the attacks on the US consulate in Libya, the PMS said that the Foreign Secretary had issued a statement on the attack. The UK’s staff in Libya are safe and accounted for but wherever UK staff are serving around the world we do everything to ensure they are as safe as possible
Asked whether the PM would recognise an independent Scotland as a state and whether he would support their application to the EU, the PMS said that the PM believes Scotland should remain a part of the union and would not speculate on the outcome of the referendum.