The Prime Minister's Spokesperson (PMS) answered questions on immigration, Mali and councils
The PMS provided a readout of the PM’s call with President Hollande. The President had thanked the PM for the support provided in Mali, and the PM had made it clear that the UK supported the actions of the French government.
Asked about any further assistance the government was considering, the PMS said that the position on a non-combat role was unchanged. The UK could offer assistance in the form of increased logistical or intelligence support, and through the EU training mission. The PMS said that the UK’s National Security Advisor was travelling to Paris to discuss the matter with French counterparts. Addressing the threats in the region more broadly, the PM had made it clear that in the long term the region would need political and economic support.
Questioned on migration controls for the UK regarding potential migrants from Bulgaria and Romania, the PMS said that it was an ongoing issue and the government would explore options available to negate any potential damage to the UK labour market. Any option would need to work around a European legal framework. The National Institute for Economic and Social Research had been commissioned by the government to examine the potential impact of immigrants from Bulgaria and Romania, and their work would be published in due course.
Asked whether the PM expected all government ministers to vote in favour of boundary change proposals, the PMS said that for this specific issue the application of collective responsibility had been set aside. The PM believed it was important that the proposals were debated in the House, but he was in favour of a smaller, cheaper and fairer House of Commons.
Asked whether the PM thought councils should stage a referendum if proposing council tax increases, the PMS said that it was up to individual councils but government wanted them to freeze taxes. The government had provided financial support for councils. Asked whether the PM was irritated by the media reporting savings as ‘cuts’, the PMS said it was up to the media how they decided to report on issues.