Press briefing: morning 14 August
This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
The Prime Minister's Spokesperson (PMS) answered questions on Iraq, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Clerk of Commons and the European Commission.
When asked whether the UK would take Christian refugees from Iraq, the PMS said we have a proud tradition in this country of offering sanctuary to those who are fleeing persecution. She said decisions would be taken on a case by case basis.
On the question of whether there is a legal issue with accepting refugees from a particular religious group, she said cases are assessed on their individual merits.
On the UK taking responsibility for some refugee camps in Iraq, she referenced the work DFiD has been doing to allocate £13 million of support across a number of areas, including what we put into the camps. The PMS added that we have sent a humanitarian advisor to assess the situation, and a flight left the UK on Friday with supplies for camps.
On the Defence Secretary’s comments that the situation is going beyond purely humanitarian, the PMS said the focus is on the immediate humanitarian situation and the needs and risks for communities in northern Iraq.
She added that the PM and Defence Secretary set out over weekend that there is a broader challenge of how to address the threat ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) poses not only to the region, but to Europe and the UK too.
She followed by saying that it will require a broader response which combines our effort on aid, with military efforts such as transporting supplies, and continuing diplomatic effort. She added that a recall of Parliament is not on the cards and that the opposition is being informed of the government’s action in the normal way.
On an overarching strategy against ISIL, the PMS said there is a range of things government is doing. She first made reference to Iraq and how the Kurdish forces are the first line of defence against advancing ISIL forces, which is why we’ve been looking at how we can support them both by transporting supplies from other countries and signalling that we would consider favourably requests for supplies.
She added that work is underway to see what we could provide in this respect. She said that a UN Security Council resolution was adopted on Friday and noted that it is the first time individuals have also been sanctioned at the outset of a resolution like this. She ended on this point by saying that the UK is working to support the new PM designate.
On action here at home against ISIL, she said we are taking passports off people and taking down pieces on the internet that encourage ISIL. She said we have seen increased efforts to strengthen diplomatic relations with Iran in recent months but this is in response to a clear threat to neighbours in the region and the UK.
On work to provide military supplies, the PMS said discussions are underway in the UK government and with the Kurds. She said contact has been made with the Kurdistan government and done with clear consent on Iraqi government. She said we underlined a need for an inclusive government against this common enemy.
When asked about the review, she said that the main findings of this work had been completed at the end of July, and that work is ongoing across government to consider these findings. She said we would make the findings public in due course.
It was asked what the PM’s thoughts are on allegations of supermarkets removing kosher foods. The PMS said it is important that we recognise the rights of Israelis and Palestinians to work alongside each other peacefully. She said our efforts should be on making this possible. Back in the UK she said the importance is respect for both parties to exist alongside one another, and that we focus efforts on the region where this is going to be resolved.
Clerk of Commons
On the issue of appointing a new Clerk, the PMS said the process is underway and hasn’t been formalised yet. She said it is a matter for the Speaker of the House and that it was a well-established process. She said the PM receives a recommendation who then puts it to The Queen.
There have been no substantial developments in relation to appointments and portfolios. The next president of the commission is using the traditional Brussels break to think about Commission portfolios.
When asked who is in charge, the PMS said the Prime Minister is always in charge.