Press briefing: morning 8 September 2014
This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
The Prime Minister's Spokesperson answered questions on Scotland, the Royal baby and Fiona Woolf.
When asked if the Prime Minister (PM) had cancelled a visit to Scotland this week ahead of the independence referendum, if he was deliberately staying away and whether he would be increasing efforts following the recent poll showing the “Yes” campaign in the lead, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesperson (PMOS) said that the PM would continue to make the case for the UK to stay together, that there had been no change to his plans and that he would be visiting Scotland ahead of the referendum.
The spokesperson said there were not many people in the UK who were not aware of the PM’s approach and the strength of his views, and that he had been making very regular visits to Scotland to make the case, including 2 last month. He said the PM had been making his case to those in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK and one example of the PM’s involvement had been through meeting groups of undecided voters.
When asked whether, following the poll indicating that there could be a “yes” vote, the government was making contingency plans and what its position was on “Devolution Max”, the PMOS said the government was not making contingency plans. He said the government’s entire focus was on making the case for the UK staying together and Scotland remaining part of the UK. The PMOS said both Coalition parties had set out their own proposals on further powers for Scotland and in August the leaders of the 3 major parties in the UK Parliament had made a declaration on more powers.
Asked what powers the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been referring to when he said more powers would be given to Scotland, the PMOS said the Chancellor had talked about setting out a plan of action, which would happen in the coming days. He said there was a well defined scope for further devolved powers for Scotland in areas including tax and welfare and that the political parties would set out proposals in the coming days. He added that the parties had already publicly set out consensus on large areas of the powers involved. Asked whether changes would happen before the next election, the PMOS said that the details would be for the political parties to set out.
When asked if the fall in the pound and shares in Scottish companies since the recent poll was an indication of what would happen if there was a “yes” vote, the PMOS said he could not comment on market movements and added that the PM’s view was that it was for the Scottish First Minister to address uncertainties.
Asked whether next year’s election should go ahead as planned, if there was a “yes” vote, the PMOS said the government focus was on the referendum.
Asked why the PM had gone late on his annual visit to Balmoral at the weekend, the PMOS said his visit had been as scheduled.
When asked for the PM’s reaction on news that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were expecting another baby, the PMOS said that the reaction had been one of delight and that it was very happy news. Asked if the PM had advance knowledge of the announcement, the spokesperson said that it was normal practice for the parents to announce when they were expecting a child.
When asked whether the PM was happy for Fiona Woolf to lead the investigation into child abuse, in light of reported links to Leon Brittan, the PMOS confirmed that he was and that the PM gave his strong support to Fiona Woolf and expressed his gratitude to her for taking the investigation on. The spokesperson said Fiona Woolf would bring all the experience from her distinguished career and confirmed that PM had been consulted on the appointment.