Press briefing: morning 16 October 2014
This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
The Prime Minister's Official Spokesperson answered questions on Ebola, the ASEM (Asia-Europe meeting), immigration and Lord Freud.
When asked about Ebola screening in the UK, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesperson (PMOS) said the government expects screening measures to be extended to Gatwick and the Eurostar next week, adding that the government is keeping screening at other ports of entry under review. The PMOS said the government was continually working with airlines and others to get the screening system right, and that this afternoon’s COBR meeting would be an opportunity to take stock after the first few days of Ebola screening in the UK.
With regard to the Prime Minister’s video conference yesterday, the PMOS said it was an opportunity for the leaders to discuss what they were each doing in West Africa, to look at how that action is coordinated, and whether there were any gaps in their response to Ebola.
The leaders agreed to work with other countries to look at increasing their financial contributions to tackle the problem – something the Prime Minister would be looking to discuss further at the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) tomorrow, and the European Council next week. There was also discussion about how countries could increase the number of treatment units and beds being provided to the region. The leaders also touched on the processes in place for medical evacuations – a point the European leaders would return to in the margins of ASEM, and the European Council next week.
When asked about the forthcoming ASEM, the PMOS said the Prime Minister’s first and foremost reason for going to Milan was to meet other European leaders, President Putin and President Poroshenko to talk about the situation in eastern Ukraine, the progress towards a ceasefire, stabilising the situation, and improving relations between Russia and Ukraine.
With regard to the Prime Minister’s message ahead of the meeting, the PMOS said there needed to be more progress in implementing the Minsk Agreement, and added there are still actions for the Russians to do in terms of stopping the flow of weapons across the border. The PMOS also stressed the importance of upcoming local and parliamentary elections in Ukraine being allowed to happen in accordance with the law, and the need to see the ceasefire fully implemented on the ground.
On sanctions, the PMOS said ASEM was principally about Presidents Putin and Poroshenko being in the same city, although the PMOS added it was important that the government had put sanctions in place to make clear to Russia that there would be costs for their actions in eastern Ukraine, and their failure to make progress on them. The case for sanctions remains, the PMOS said.
When asked about immigration, the PMOS said the Prime Minister recognises people have concerns about migration from the EU, and that he intends to address these concerns as part of reforming the UK’s relationship with the EU.
When asked about Lord Freud, the PMOS said Lord Freud’s full and unreserved apology had been exactly the right thing to do.