The Prime Minister’s spokesperson (PMS) gave a readout on the Cabinet meeting held that morning. The Chancellor had given an update on the economy, the Scotland Secretary had given an update on the Scottish referendum and the Business Secretary had provided an update on government help for small businesses and the Royal Mail. The position on the Royal Mail floatation had not changed; there would be a floatation in the current financial year.
Asked about the situation in Syria and specifically about President Assad handing chemical weapons over to international control, the PMS said that the onus was now on Russia and Syria. If the offer was a serious and genuine one, the government would encourage it. The objective in Syria was to stop the suffering of the Syrian people and to prevent President Assad from using chemical weapons on his own people. The government would continue working with the US and France as well as Russia as part of a response to the use of chemical weapons on 21 August.
Asked about John Kerry’s comments on President Assad handing over chemical weapons, the PMS said that the PM and President Obama had discussed the control of President Assad’s chemical weapon stocks as part of a response to the attack of 21 August. However, when looking at a response, the international community had to be vigilant to the risk of distraction tactics. There had been a significant period of time since the attack and working on the proposal could not be an endless process.
Questioned on UK support for a response through the UN Security Council, the PMS said that addressing the issue through the UN would test the credibility of the proposal at hand, although previous problems with using UN channels had been the position of other countries. It was important that a political and diplomatic solution was found to bring the killing and suffering to an end.