Downing Street lobby briefing on Israel-Iran conflict, RBS shares and BT job cuts
At a briefing for journalists today, a Downing Street spokesman was asked about the Israel-Iran conflict, the £3.6bn penalty for RBS and the 13,000 job cuts at BT.
MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT
On the sudden escalation in tension between Israel and Iran, the spokesman said: "We condemn Iran’s attack on Israel. Israel has every right to defend itself. And we call on Iran to refrain from any further attacks and for calm on all sides. We call on Russia to use its influence in Syria to prevent further Iranian attacks."
On the £3.6bn penalty RBS has agreed to pay over its role in the run-up to the 2008 crash and the knock-on effect for taxpayers who bailed out the bank, the spokesman said: "You have seen from the Chancellor he welcomed the agreement in principle that was reached this morning to resolve this long-standing issue which will, when finalised, remove a major uncertainty for the UK taxpayer. This marks another significant milestone in RBS’s work to resolve its legacy issues and will help pave the way to a sale of taxpayer-owned shares."
On the decision by BT to axe thousands of jobs and move out of its London HQ, the spokesman said: "It’s a commercial decision taken by BT but of course we understand that this will be an uncertain time for its employees and for their families. Jobcentre Plus stands ready to support any workers and their families that may be affected. I think it’s important to note from BT’s announcement that it is planning to recruit 6,000 new staff - in particular engineers, apprentices and graduates to help improve infrastructure, customer service and cyber security."
Asked whether the Brexit transition period could be extended to buy time to strike a customs agreement, the spokesman said: "No. The implementation period is agreed and that is due to end in December 2020."