Press release

Press briefing: morning 8 Feb 2012

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The Prime Minister's Spokesperson (PMS) answered questions on the Falkland Islands, Syria and business in the UK.


Asked whether the Foreign Secretary had held talks with the Russian Foreign Secretary and the Qatari PM on Syria, the PMS said that the Foreign Secretary had held talks with the Qatari PM but had not yet discussed Syria with the Russian Foreign Secretary.

Falkland Islands

Asked whether the PM was concerned about the Argentine intention to complain to the UN over the apparent Falkland Islands militarisation, the PMS said that ultimately the UK position of self determination for the Falklands was consistent with the UN charter. The people of the Falklands choose to be British, it is up to Argentina whether they lodge a complaint to the UN but the government is not militarising the South Atlantic.

Asked whether the government was going to hold a referendum for the Falklands, the PMS said that it was a matter for the Falkland Islands but they had not signalled they wanted a referendum.

Asked whether the UK had a right to the oil around the Falkland Islands, the PMS referred the journalist to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Asked whether the UK should make an official statement on the deployment of MOD assets around the Falklands, the PMS said that the position had been clear and that there was no militarisation.

Asked whether there was any contingency planning for if the situation does become militarised, the PMS said that the key point was that there was no suggestion that the UK needed to increase its military presence or deploy more military assets to the region. There are already a range of military assets in the region and the government does have contingency plans that have always been in place.

Abu Qatada

Asked whether the PM agreed with the Justice Secretary’s comments on Abu Qatada’s bail, the PMS said that the Justice Secretary was making a technical point about Abu Qatada’s bail ruling and that the government’s position had been set out by the Home Secretary.

Government voting

Asked what the PM thought of Conservative MP calls for the Minister for Children and Families to stand down for not supporting a government vote, the PMS said the minister was away on government business at the time the vote took place and that as a government minister, she supports the government’s policies.

Health reforms

Asked how the PM felt about the Health reforms, the PMS said that his position had not changed. The proposed changes to the NHS were based on what NHS staff had consistently asked for and they were in the best interests of patient care.

Asked whether the government were expecting more amendments by the House or Lords when the bill is put to them again, the PMS said she would not speculate on the passage of the bill.

Business in UK

Asked whether the PM agreed there was a danger of an anti-business culture developing in the UK, the PMS said that the PM agreed with the Chancellor’s comments made the evening before at the Confederation of Small Businesses’ event. The country needs a strong free market economy, but it must address national debt and long term stability to help business grow. Addressing the Eurozone was key for businesses in the UK and the government was focused on seeking a resolution to Eurozone challenges.

Asked whether the PM thought the removal of Fred Goodwin’s knighthood and the pressure on Stephen Hester to waive his bonus was improving the business environment, the PMS said that the PM’s view on both of those separate issues was clear.