The Prime Minister's daughter, troubled families, the Eurozone, Jeremy Hunt, Euro 2012 and the Falkland Islands were among topics discussed at this press briefing.
Asked whether she could say more about how the PM came to leave his daughter in the pub, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMS) said no and pointed journalists to what had been said in reports today.
Asked to repeat what has been said she said the PM was distraught when he realised he had left his daughter in the pub, he was reassured that she was fine and immediately went to collect her. Asked whether he had had a drink, she said she didn’t know that detail. He had gone with friends at lunchtime with various different families and they had left in different vehicles.
Asked if the PM’s close protection team were there, she confirmed that was the case. When it was put to her that is it not worrying they did not know a member of the Cameron family was missing, she said she would not talk about security issues around the PM, but arrangements are always kept under review.
Asked whether, given he was in the pub for a pub lunch, presumably he had a drink she said she did not know. She referred the lobby to political colleagues. Asked to clarify who went to pick Nancy up, she said it was the PM who went back. [Later this fact was corrected: the PM’s wife collected Nancy.]
Asked when exactly it happened, she confirmed it was about two months ago but that she did not have specific dates. Asked if the PM or the security team drove, she said she did not know who drove the vehicle but the important thing is he went back immediately when he realised she was missing.
Asked if there was there anything in particular on his mind at the weekend, the PMS said he’s a very busy man as you know, but he tries to live as normal a life as possible with his family. He does frequently go to different engagements with friends including going to the pub. Asked if this has ever happened before, she said she did not believe it had. When it was put to her that others have come forward to say they’ve done similar things and been visited by Social Services, and asked whether this had happened here, she replied that it had not. Asked if she thought it had highlighted in the PM’s mind the issue of child kidnapping, she repeated he was distraught when he realised the mix up, any parent would be concerned, but these things happen. Asked if he would be happy to see Social Services, the replied she was not going to comment further on this. Asked if he was worried about other families being visited by Social Services for such minor cases, she said she was not aware of Social Services’ policy for one offs like this and referred journalists to the relevant department.
Asked whose fault was it, the PMS said there was a mix up; Sam thought the PM had Nancy and vice-versa; there were lots of children there. They take responsibility for their children.
Asked if the family all travel in the same vehicle, she said the parents were in different vehicles. Asked whether there were any children not from the Cameron family in the car with protective security, she said she did not know which children were in which car.Asked if there are any rules about official cars and giving a lift to friends, she said she would not get into the ins and outs of who does and doesn’t get into the PM’s car. The PM was taken back in his car; we don’t provide lists of who travels in the PM’s car.
Asked whether the Cameron children should be travelling outside official cars, she said she was not going to talk about security issues. Asked if there was an inquiry, she said there was not an official inquiry but reminded journalists that clearly the PM realised immediately what had happened and did something about it.
Asked if anyone was facing disciplinary action or if this was a security breach, she said no and she wouldn’t comment on security matters.
Asked how often does the PM go to the pub, she said he tries to live a normal a life as possible; he goes occasionally. Asked if the PM and Samantha are accepting 100 per cent blame, she said as parents they are responsible for their children.
Asked how many troubled families there were in Britain, the PMS said there were around 120,000. She said what was important was that the government has a pledge to turn these lives around. Put to her that the figure being cited was a ten year-old one from the Cabinet Office, and asked why did Whitehall carry on using it, she said it was an approximate figure, around 120,000, but what was important was that initiatives were being put in place to address the issue.
Asked how the Cabinet Office came up with the figure, she said speak to the Department for Communities and Local Government who were leading on this issue. Asked if there were any plans to update the figure, she said what was important was that the government was committed to turning around the lives of troubled families because of the huge burden on public spending which was estimated to be around £9bn, that was around £750,000 per family.
Asked if the government was confident that the arrangements for the bailout of the Spanish banks would not have an impact on the regulation of the financial services here, the PMS said the terms were still being sorted but as the Chancellor had set out there would be no cost to UK taxpayers. She underlined to journalists the important principle that it was for Eurozone members to help members of the Eurozone. But any decision impacting the 27 members of the EU should involve the 27 members of the EU. She said the PM and Chancellor had been very clear that we want to be able to protect British interests and at same time see the Eurozone dealing with its problems. She pointed journalists to the Chancellor’s newspaper article at the weekend where he set out the government’s view and reiterated that whatever happens in the Eurozone has an impact on the UK so it was really important we see a resolution. And that was why this week’s announcement on Spanish banks was very welcome.
Asked if the PM shared the Chancellor’s view that the Eurozone was impacting our recovery, she said that whatever happens in the Eurozone impacts Britain so of course the PM would agree and that is why it was very important to see a resolution. She referred people back to the speech made by the PM in Manchester on what, in his view, needs to be done in the Eurozone and what we can do to boost growth in short, medium and long term here.
Asked if he shared the view of some Conservative MPs that we need to do more to offset the impact of the Eurozone, she said the PM would argue we’re doing an awful lot to try and encourage enterprise and build growth in our economy. Obviously it was important for the Eurozone to sort out its problem. She again referred back to the Manchester speech where he outlined what we’re already doing. The PMS summarised some of these points including the UK’s safe haven status, having the lowest corporation tax rate in the G7 and having already made great progress in dealing with the deficit in the first few years of this government.
Asked would the PM agree with those Tory MPs that say the Eurozone is an alibi for the lack of growth, the PMS said we recognise the Eurozone impacts on the UK economy but we are also part of a single market and the EU is our largest trading partner. The greatest thing the Eurozone crisis was doing was unsettling confidence in the markets, that’s why we need a resolution. In the meantime we’ve set out what we’re doing to boost growth in the UK.
Asked whether the PM thought it was possible to have recovery here with the problems in the Eurozone, she said we were working very hard to deal with economy. One of first things was dealing with deficit and this has already gone down. Asked if the PM was bracing himself for a downgrade of the British banks this week, she said she was not going to speculate but what was important is that we have a credible plan in place and we would continue to deliver that. Asked if he has any phone calls or meetings planned ahead of the G20, she could not confirm any plans but said calls would be briefed out in the usual way.
Asked would the government be whipping the vote on referring Jeremy Hunt, the PMS said if was not for her to comment on whipping arrangements. Asked if the PM was prepared to consider giving Alex Allen the power to instigate inquiries himself, she said there are currently no plans to change the arrangements.
Asked whether any Ministers would be attending the later stages of Euro 2012, the PMS said there were no plans for any ministers to go to the group stages.
Asked if the PM would be watching the England match or listening to the Home Secretary this afternoon, she said he would be kept abreast of the score. Asked if he has ruled out going to the Ukraine, she said the PM has a very busy agenda: looking ahead he was going to the G20 and European Council meetings and one could not guess where England might get to in the competition.
Asked why the group games were specified, she said she did not suppose the FCO wanted to speculate how far we would get in the competition but she could confirm that there were no plans for a minister to go to group games.
Asked whether that was a deliberate diplomatic decision to send a signal to Ukraine, she said the FCO has separately commented on Ukraine’s record.
Asked whether the PM sent any message of support, she confirmed this was the case - he had sent a letter last week to the England manager expressing his best wishes.
Asked whether, if at a later stage England were to play in Poland, ministers would go, she would not speculate but advised journalists to speak to the FCO.
Asked what the PM was doing to mark the 30th anniversary of the end of the Falklands War she said Jeremy Browne was representing the government in commemorations by visiting the Islands this week.