Asked about the PM’s meeting with President Barroso, the PMS said that they would discuss issues facing the EU and the EU/US trade negotiations. The PM was driving at getting negotiations on the trade deal up and running, work was ongoing but he wanted an ambitious agreement. It was possible that discussions could also cover Syria, as the EU had recently taken a decision on the arms embargo.
Questioned on the current situation in Syria, the PMS said that no decision had been taken on arming the Syrian opposition. The government very strongly believed that the objective needed to be an end to the violence and suffering in Syria through political transition. As part of that, the international community needed to put pressure on the Assad regime and support the Syrian opposition, which the government had been doing by providing non-lethal assistance. The point of lifting the arms embargo was to provide the international community with flexibility on options further down the line.
Asked about the government’s proposals for childcare, the PMS said that there had been a consultation and the government would set out the final package of measures shortly. The package would be designed to increase the accessibility to high quality childcare but take full account of the responses to the consultation.
Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) report
Questioned on the Intelligence and Security Committee report on telecommunications and security, the PMS said that the government would respond fully in due course, and made the point that government had put in place robust measures.