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1994 - Mr Major’s Doorstep Interview in Essen

Below is the text of Mr Major’s doorstep interview in Essen, held on Friday 9th December 1994.


QUESTION (Judith Dawson):

Prime Minister, what are your feelings about the talks today in Northern Ireland?

PRIME MINISTER:

I very much hope they will be successful, but this is the first day only, they will be discussing the agenda today, then we will arrange a date for the next meeting. I think it is very important but I think one ought not to pin too much on today.

This will be the first of a whole series of talks, today with Sinn Fein and of course in a week or so with the Loyalist Paramilitaries as well.

QUESTION (Nick Clark):

As far as you are concerned, these are talks about talks and they do not have any further significance, Sinn Fein say they are to do with getting themselves into the political process?

PRIME MINISTER:

The two things are the same thing. They are talks about getting Sinn Fein into talks with the other constitutional parties, so both those remarks are right, they are talks about talks but they do lead to getting Sin Fein into a proper constitutional process, that is correct.

QUESTION (Nick Clark):

Do you think it is possible that Bosnia might overtake events here in Essen and that you might be distracted from other matters?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think it is possible that we will discuss it, I think it is almost certain that we will discuss it. I do not think it is going to overtake events here but I would be very surprised if it was not discussed. But we have a pretty heavy agenda on this occasion, we want to look very carefully at the White Paper on employment. When you strip away the masking tape of other things, what is still bothering people right the way across Europe is the creation of more jobs, so we will clearly discuss that. We will spend some time looking at fraud, that is very important, I have some proposals to put to colleagues about fraud.

QUESTION (Nick Clark):

Are they new proposals?

PRIME MINISTER:

Some suggestions as to how we might deal with the problem of fraud and mis-management across the Community. It is a matter of great importance to us, but not only us, other nation states feel just as strongly about it as well and of course there are a range of other issues we will discuss.

QUESTION (Judith Dawson):

Are you feeling happier about events back home?

PRIME MINISTER:

I am certainly pleased the way the economy is recovering, there is no doubt about that. We are now beginning to see not just the occasional good figure but a whole run of figures that are consistently good. The economy is growing, it is growing quite securely, the figures we have seen again this week on exports, on trade, on industrial production, all exceeding the expectations of most market commentators, and unemployment thankfully is continuing to come down.

QUESTION (Judith Dawson):

Do you think the problems in your government and party are behind you now?

PRIME MINISTER:

I very much hope so. But you see, what the public do not like is disunity. There has been a great deal of difficulty that people have had to face as we have had to get out of this recession, as has everyone else. That has involved very painful decisions that were necessary in the national interest, decisions that were unpopular in the short term and will be unpopular until people can see for themselves that they were right, it is beginning to become apparent that they were right but it is not yet apparent to everybody up and down the land. I think they want people in Parliament to stop squabbling and get on with the things that concern them, and they are right.

QUESTION (Nick Clark):

Could this be a turning point this week, could it be the end of the troubles, the start of a slightly brighter era for you?

PRIME MINISTER:

Anyone in politics who ever predicts turning points should have learnt from experience. I very much hope so. I am in no doubt about the turning point as far as the economy is concerned, that is certainly so. Despite all the shot and shell, the European Community's Finance Bill went through the House of Commons in a single day and I think that exposes how much of the argument about it was really heavily over-cooked, in a single day the whole of the bill has gone through, that is now behind us and I am delighted it is behind us. In front of us is to ensure that the economic recovery remains on track, that people continue to see growing prosperity in the country. Those are the things we should concentrate on,

QUESTION (Nick Clark):

And fewer causes for rebellion perhaps in the future?

PRIME MINISTER:

Politics is about expressing ideas I but think those ideas have to be expressed within certain parameters. The points about disunity are points the public do not like. I do not think the public like artificial squabbles in Parliament, either within parties or between parties, they seem irrelevant to most people in their everyday lives, and they certainly do not expect the governing party to squabble within themselves in the way they have seen in the last year and they have expressed that view quite clearly in by-elections, and I understand that view, I think it is time it is stopped.

QUESTION (Nick Clark):

And those things are damaging to you?

PRIME MINISTER:

Of course they are damaging, I have never made any secret about the fact that they are damaging. We are there to carry out a particular job in the interests of this country, that is what the government are doing, that is what Conservative MPs were elected to support, I look to them to support it.