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No. 10 Morning Press Briefing From 11 July 2008

Morning press briefing from 11 July 2008

Briefing from the Prime Minister's Spokesman on: European Council Summit, David Davis, embryology, Nigeria, Russia, Draft Legislative Programme and data review...

European Council Summit

Asked for more details on the Summit in Paris, the Prime Minister's Spokesman (PMS) told the assembled press that the French Government had said that they wanted the Summit to address four broad themes; economic development, environment and climate change, education, culture and migration and a wider political dialogue.

Asked why the Prime Minister was attending if the Summit was for Mediterranean states, the PMS replied that he was not exactly sure which member states were attending, but it had the status of an informal European Council, at which the Mediterranean states who were not members of the EU had been invited.

David Davis

Put that Tony McNulty had likened David Davis to Homer Simpson for his decision to call a by election and did Downing Street share that view, the PMS said that we would not be commenting on Mr Davis. Asked if there would be any comment at all on what Mr Davis had claimed was a victory for his agenda, the PMS said it was a matter for the Labour Party to respond to and Mr McNulty was the Labour Party spokesman commenting on and dealing with these issues.


Asked if he could confirm whether Harriet Harman had persuaded the Prime Minister to delay the Embryology Bill, the PMS said that as we had discussed at some length yesterday, he would not get into internal Government discussions. The position of the Government was announced by Harriet Harman at Business Questions yesterday.

Asked whether it had been discussed at Cabinet yesterday, the PMS replied that as he had said yesterday, there was a general discussion of upcoming parliamentary business. Asked if there was any anticipation at Cabinet that it would be delayed, the PMS said he would not be getting into the specifics of exactly what was and was not discussed at Cabinet.


Asked whether the Government had any response to the rebels in Nigeria, the PMS said that our general position on this was that oil supply in Nigeria had been undermined by insecurity in the Niger Delta. This was bad for the local population, for workers, for the Nigerian Government and the stability of the wider region. The President of Nigeria was visiting London next week and the Prime Minister would have an opportunity to discuss these issues further with the President then.

Put that some of the responses in Nigeria to the Prime Minister's comments appeared to suggest that they had interpreted him as saying that Britain was ready to offer military assistance to the Nigerian Government and was that a fair interpretation, the PMS said we already provided some military training links to Nigeria, as we did with a number of other countries in the region and elsewhere.

Asked to name the other countries, the PMS said he was sure the Ministry of Defence or the Foreign Office could give people a full list.


Asked about Russia labelling a British diplomat a spy, the PMS said we would not be commenting on intelligence matters. Put that it was a diplomatic matter, the PMS said we would not be commenting on this particular matter at this point.

Draft Legislative Programme

Put that the Draft Legislative Programme events taking place around the country today appeared to be Labour Party rather than the Government, the PMS replied that the programme had been set out by the Prime Minister. It was the Government's proposals for its future legislative programme and these were out for consultation. Put that Nick Brown was the Deputy Chief Whip, the PMS replied that he was also the regional Minister for the North East.

Asked whether the Ministers listed in the business for the day were visiting these areas because they were the regional Ministers, the PMS said that Jonathan Shaw was the Minister for the South East, Rosie Winterton was the Minister for Yorkshire, Ed Miliband was the Cabinet Office Minister and therefore was responsible for coordinating Government business and Harriet Harman, as Leader of the House, led on the legislative programme.

Data Review

Asked what the Prime Minister's response was to the Data Review, the PMS said that the Prime Minister's response was that this was a review he commissioned, it was a very good and thorough review and it did not duck any of the difficult issues. We would now have to consider its specific recommendations in detail and give our response at a subsequent point.


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