Paul Farrelly: I am sure that nothing will be more sympathetic to the Queen than a good old patriotic fly-past. Will my right hon. Friend use this occasion to quash the ridiculous story that the Red Arrows have been barred from the opening ceremony of the Olympics?
Tessa Jowell: I can absolutely, unequivocally and categorically assure my hon. Friend that there is no truth whatsoever to that story. It was highly regrettable that in the face of the scale of denials from Lord Coe, who I understand took the trouble to e-mail every Member of Parliament, and the clear statement that there was no truth in the story, the party operation of the Opposition—Conservative central office—continued to try to get a campaign going. The important thing is that the Red Arrows—part of every national celebration—are also part of the Olympics. I want to see that happen.
James Gray: Would the Minister care to substantiate the remark that she has just made and give us one shred of evidence that, somehow or other, it was the Opposition who perpetuated the myth about the Red Arrows? That is quite untrue; she is misled on that point. The Leader of the Opposition has gone to great lengths to ensure, through his noble Friend the Conservative peer Lord Coe, that the Red Arrows will play a leading part in the Olympics.
Tessa Jowell: On the basis that I am given an absolutely categorical assurance that no attempt was made at any stage by Opposition Members to blow up this campaign and to exploit what everybody knew to be untrue, I am prepared to let the matter lie. I place on record that there is not and has never been any question of the Red Arrows somehow being prevented from taking part in the Olympic games opening ceremony.
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