Asked if the Prime Minister’s (PM) call with President Putin was not encouraging, the PMS said that President Putin understands the PM’s concerns on this matter. They agreed they would stay in touch and it was right for the PM to have raised this. The Foreign Office is monitoring this on a daily basis. The UK has good, constructive relations with Russia and part of this involves raising issues when there are differences.
Asked if the PM had any hope for the Arctic 30’s freedom, the PMS said a Russian judicial process was underway. Representations had been made and we would continue to use our diplomatic influence to make sure the Russian authorities understood the importance we attached to resolving this. The PM had made the point in his call to President Putin that it was the government’s view that they were protesters rather than hooligans.
Asked if the UK was any closer to a resolution on Syria, the PMS said there was still work to be done ahead of Geneva II. The UK will keep playing a full role. In terms of representation, the long standing approach was that this needed to be acceptable to both sides in the conflict and that remained the case.
Gas price rigging
Asked if Downing Street was happy with the Financial Conduct Authority finding no evidence of market price rigging, the PMS said that their review had been a rigorous one. More competition was needed in the energy market. There were proposals to introduce criminal sanctions for market manipulation, not unlike criminal sanctions being introduced in regard to the financial services sector.
Asked what the hold up was in the handing over information to the inquiry, the PMS said there nothing to add to what the PM had said in his most recent letter to Sir John Chilcot on 5 November.