A very bronzed David Cameron has just completed his monthly press conference. Highlights are posted below.
The summer grid: Mr Cameron noted that the Tories were continuing to fire on all cylinders over the summer. He noted initiatives by Chris Grayling on cities, Michael Gove on education and by Nick Herbert and Dominic Grieve on crime. George Osborne would be back next week and would be unpacking elements of the Conservatives’ economic recovery plan. Later today the party would be holding a conference on the future of the housing industry. He condemned Labour’s "reckless" briefing on stamp duty and its effect of "freezing" the housing market. Tomorrow Mr Cameron begins a three day tour of nine marginal seats in the north west of England. His tour will include two of his ‘Cameron Direct’ meetings.
Georgia: The bulk of Mr Cameron’s introductory remarks focused on the crisis in Georgia. He revealed that he had spoken to John McCain yesterday and to the Polish Foreign Minister. He repeated his view that Russia has used massive and disproportionate force and that he feared that Russia was intent on toppling a democratically-elected government and crippling a sovereign country. The crisis had "profound implications" he said and if Russian aggression was unchecked there would be more problems in the future. Would Russia seek to exert control over territories inhabited by Russian citizens in Ukraine or the Baltic states, he asked? Although Georgian strategy had been "misguided" the real villain was clearly Russia. He suggested:
- A debate of the situation at the UN General Assembly
- Suspension of visa access to Britain for certain Russian nationals
- Possible suspension of Russian membership of G8
- A clear timetable for Georgian membership of NATO.
Victory at the next General Election: He declined to agree with William Hague’s reported view that victory at the next General Election was likely. He took nothing for granted. The British people don’t lightly change their government, he said.
Green taxation: The Mirror asked if Mr Cameron had told Eric Pickles that it was his fault that he was fat. More seriously they asked which green tax would the Tories increase in order to finance the promised tax allowance for marriage. Mr Cameron batted away that important question for another day.
ConservativeHome comment: "A very good statement on the Georgian situation from David Cameron; perhaps influenced by his conversation with Senator McCain. Mr Cameron’s tough and visible stance contrasts with that of Gordon Brown. At one point in the press conference he half-joked about it being unlikely that Mr Brown would be able to have full and frank discussions about the crisis with his own Foreign Secretary. The Foreign Secretary being leadership wannabe, Mr David Miliband, of course. The breakdown in relations within the Government has serious consequences at a time like this."