The Prime Minister's Official Spokesperson answered questions on Scotland, the European Commission, the Middle East, climate and ISIL.
Asked whether the Prime Minister (PM) would be speaking to ordinary members of the public in Scotland today and whether he had any reservations about the visit, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesperson (PMOS) said this visit would be the PM’s ninth to Scotland this year and he would be visiting again next week. He said the PM would be visiting businesses today and speaking to people and had met with groups of undecided voters on several occasions in the past. The PMOS said the PM had always been clear that there was no room for complacency, that the arguments had to keep being made all the way to referendum day and it was right that the people of Scotland were given this choice.
When asked whether Sir John Major’s comments this morning had been helpful, the PMOS said the PM welcomed the voices of those who had been making the case for the UK staying together. He said the PM’s message was that we want the people of Scotland to stay part of the UK, which was also what Sir John was saying.
Asked whether this was the most significant moment in the PM’s political life, the PMOS said the essential point was that the referendum was of vital importance to the people of Scotland, and the choice was about the future of Scotland.
When asked for the PM’s reaction to the announcement that Lord Hill would take over a portfolio with responsibility for financial services at the European Commission, the PMOS said he welcomed the announcement, which followed work to make the case for an economic portfolio for Lord Hill, and looked forward to working with him and the entire European Commission designate. The PMOS said that unlike the previous commissioner, Lord Hill would have a stand-alone financial services portfolio that also includes elements of financial stability which had previously been in the “Ecofin” portfolio. He said this would mean Lord Hill would be looking at issues such as financial services in the Single Market, as well as consideration of a banking union, which has been considered as having particular relevance for the Eurozone.
The PMOS said the PM had made the point it was important to ensure the voice of countries like the UK which are not in the Euro and will not join the Euro were fully represented during consideration of these issues. The PMOS added that financial services was a very significant sector in the UK, not just in London but in other important centres, including Edinburgh, Manchester and Bristol. Asked if the PM had wanted this particular post for Lord Hill, the PMOS said decisions on portfolios were taken by the incoming president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and the UK government had made a case for a role for a non-Eurozone country for these issues.
When asked if reports that the UK wanted permanent military bases in the Gulf were correct, the PMOS said these plans were not new and that they were part of planning for the draw down of troops from Afghanistan. He said the UK currently had military facilities in the region, working with partner states there, and was giving consideration to options.
When asked if the government was changing its approach on whether Police and Crime Commissioners could be sacked in light of recent comments from the Home Secretary, the PMOS said the point the Home Secretary had made was that the government would consider recommendations made by Parliamentary committees in this area, as they did in all other areas.
When asked if the PM would be attending the Climate Change Summit in New York at the time of the UN General Assembly, the PMOS said the PM and other world leaders would be taking the opportunity of this meeting to underline the importance of reaching an agreement at the Paris conference in 2015.
When asked if the PM would be speaking to President Obama ahead of his planned address on ISIL tonight, the PMOS said the 2 leaders had spoken at length at the recent NATO Summit in Wales and that their national security teams remained in close touch.