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No. 10 Morning Press Briefing From 25 June 2008

Briefing from the Prime Minister's Spokesman on: Stuart Wheeler Lisbon Treaty Referendum court case, Zimbabwe and miscellaneous

Morning press briefing from 25 June 2008

Stuart Wheeler Lisbon Treaty Referendum Court Case

Asked if the Government had a response to the judgement in Mr Wheeler's case, the Prime Minister's Spokesman (PMS) replied that Jim Murphy had given a response earlier today, which said that the judges had come down very clearly on the side of the Government and found that this claim lacked substantive merit and therefore should be dismissed.

Put that the judges had said that there were no grounds for an appeal but that Mr Wheeler was going to ask for one anyway and asked if this would delay the ratification process, the PMS said that whether or not Mr Wheeler appealed was up to him; Judge Richards had today refused leave to appeal to his court and made very clear that he saw "no compelling reason why an appeal should be heard". Judge Richards had also referred to the avoidance of unnecessary delay in this matter. At the moment no appeal had been lodged and therefore we would proceed with ratification.

Asked for an idea as to when this might happen, the PMS said that the process normally took anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks; it depended on the availability of the Great Wafer Seal among other things.

Zimbabwe

Asked if the Prime Minister thought it was appropriate for British companies to invest money in Zimbabwe, the PMS said that the Foreign Secretary had dealt with this issue in his statement to the House of Commons earlier this week. Our general position on sanctions was that we kept all matters under review; we were discussing with our EU partners how we could tighten the sanction regime. We had always been very clear that the objectives of the sanctions regime should be primarily to prevent the regime in Zimbabwe from carrying out their undemocratic acts and to be mindful of the impact on the welfare of ordinary Zimbabweans.

Asked if the Prime Minister would discourage British investors from investing money into Zimbabwe, the PMS repeated that we kept the issue of sanctions on Zimbabwe under review. We were mindful of the impact on the humanitarian situation and did not want to see anything that propped up the regime in any way.

Asked for the Government's response to suggestions from New York that South Africa should no longer host the 2010 World Cup, the PMS said that he had not seen that suggestion and that it was not the British Government's position.

Asked if it was the case that the British Government would not recognise the outcome of the election in Zimbabwe now that the Movement for Democratic Change had pulled out, the PMS said that we had already made clear that we did not acknowledge the legitimacy of the current regime and we called for the results of the first round of the elections to be respected, as the UN Security Council statement had said on Monday.

Asked for the Government's response to Morgan Tsvangirai's comments about a military force in Zimbabwe, the PMS said that this had been dealt with yesterday and that Lord Malloch-Brown had made comments about this in recent days.

Asked if Zimbabwe would now be banned from playing in the Twenty-20 cricket World Cup, the PMS said that journalists could anticipate a written statement from Andy Burnham on this matter during the course of the day.

Miscellaneous

Asked if the Prime Minister had any plans to speak to Bill Clinton while the ex-President was in London, the PMS said that he was not aware of any specific meetings planned.

Asked if the Prime Minister had any views on recommendations from the Commons Members Estimates Committee's report on MPs' allowances, the PMS said that our general position on this was first set out by the Prime Minister in his letter to the Speaker on 5 February when he said that the public needed to be reassured that all tax payers' money used to support Members in their work, both in Parliament and in their constituencies, had been properly spent and accounted for. That was why we welcomed the move towards greater transparency in today's report, as well as the move towards more rigorous audit and their rejection of a significant increase in MPs' salaries. However, this was a very lengthy report, with a number of complex recommendations, which we had only received it in the past few hours, so we would have to consider it further before giving a more specific response.

ENDS

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