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No. 10 Morning Press Briefing From 22 July 2008

Morning press briefing from 22 July 2008

Briefing from the Prime Minister's Spokesman on: Cabinet, Radovan Karadzic, Iraq, Consultation on Alcohol Responsibility, Recess Arrangements, Written Statements, Nuclear Sites and Irish Referendum


The Prime Minister's Spokesman (PMS) began by telling the assembled press that Cabinet had lasted for roughly an hour. The Cabinet mostly discussed the business of the Government over the summer, with Secretary's of State from the main departments setting out their plans. They also had a discussion led by the Prime Minister on Iraq, ahead of his statement to the Commons later today.

Asked for more details on Government business, the PMS said he would not be giving out any specific details as that would pre-empt what would be coming up over the summer. The Secretaries of State from the main departments outlined what their plans would be over the August period.

Asked whether the subject of SAT's marking came up at Cabinet, the PMS said that it came up in the context of the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families outlining the issues for his department over the next few weeks. Ed Balls and his department had been making the Government position clear and it was the case now that 98% of the Key Stage 2 results and 88% of the Key Stage 3 results were now with schools.

Asked whether the Prime Minister had given an idea as to what he'd like the Government to be doing over the summer, the PMS said that we needed to continue to deliver on behalf of the British people throughout the year. Asked if he was urging departments to propose things, the PMS replied that it had been departmental Secretaries of State themselves coming forward with their proposals for what they would be doing over the summer months.

Asked if there were any presentations in Cabinet from non-Cabinet members, the PMS said that there was a brief update from Tessa Jowell on where we were on the Olympics. She attended Cabinet but was not a Cabinet Minister. Asked what Tessa Jowell said, the PMS replied that this was really just a stock-take ahead of the Beijing Games and the fact that London would be taking over at the end of August.

Radovan Karadzic

Asked whether the Prime Minister would be saying anything on the arrest of Radovan Karadzic, the PMS replied that there was a statement from the Foreign Secretary setting out the Governments position. Asked if this would make Serbia's entry into the EU more likely, the PMS said that as the Foreign Office had been making clear, compliance with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, was a condition of Serbia's progress towards eventual EU membership and the capture of Karadzic was an important step forward in that regard. The PMS also drew the journalists attention to the Foreign Secretary's statement, where he had said that this would help close the regions decades of conflict and pave the way for a brighter European future for Serbia and the region.


Asked for more information on the Prime Minister's statement, the PMS advised people to wait until after the statement had been given. Put that Sir Jock Stirrup had said last week that there would be a change in tempo of operations and suggested that there would be a withdrawal of troops in 2009, the PMS repeated that people should wait until the Prime Minister's statement.

Consultation on Alcohol Responsibility

Asked if the consultation was about binge drinking, the PMS said that it was a consultation reporting on the recently completed review of the alcohol industry's social responsibility standards.

Recess Arrangements

Asked who would be running the Government when the Prime Minister was on holiday, the PMS replied that the Prime Minister would be in charge of the Government over the summer, as would normally be the case. Put that Alastair Darling would be in charge when the Prime Minister was away, the PMS said that the Prime Minister was the Prime Minister and would remain in charge, whether he was on holiday or not. As is normal, there would be senior Cabinet Ministers in London throughout the summer to deal with any day-to-day Government business. But the Prime Minister remained the Prime Minister even when he was on holiday.

Written Ministerial Statements

Asked whether the Prime Minister would be publishing a written statement on the National Security Strategy today and whether the Prime Minister would be publishing a statement on the Intelligence and Security Committee report into the July 7th attacks, the PMS said that on the latter, people should not anticipate that today, not least because we would not expect to publish that until the legal proceedings regarding the individuals alleged to have been involved in the attacks had been concluded. We could be in a position to do that in the next few weeks or so.

On the former, this was something we had committed to for some time, but people should not get too excited.

Nuclear Sites

Asked for more details on an announcement by BERR on nuclear sites, the PMS said that they were publishing their strategic site assessments for new nuclear power stations. This would be issued in the form of a Written Statement and was about the process to determine where new nuclear power stations would be sited safely and securely.

Irish Referendum

Asked whether the Prime Minister shared the view of President Sarkozy that the Irish people must express a view on finding a solution by the 2009 European elections, the PMS said that the Prime Minister's position was the position that was agreed at the European Council in June. It was the position that we had been taking consistently since then, which was that this was a matter for the Irish people and the Irish Government to decide on a way forward.


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