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1996 - Mr Major’s Doorstep Interview in Bangkok

Below is the text of Mr Major’s doorstep interview in Bangkok on Saturday 2nd March 1996.


PRIME MINISTER:

Let me just say a word or two about the meeting with Mr Hashimoto. We have an extremely good trade and economic relationship with Japan these days and in our discussions this morning we looked at the opportunities for further investment, mutual investment in trade growth, and the Japanese Prime Minister confirmed again that they continue to the see the United Kingdom as the most important centre for Japanese investment in Europe. So I found that extremely reassuring and we see the way in which the Asia-Europe is going in precisely the same way and look forward to its further development. So it was a very satisfactory meeting.

INTERVIEWER:

Prime Minister, are you happy or unhappy with the American decision on Gerry Adams's visa?

PRIME MINISTER:

The decision on the visa is a matter for the United States. But as I understand it, the visa is for Adams to visit the United States, there is an exclusion, there is no possibility of fund-raising and neither will he be seeing anyone senior in the American administration. So the United States on that seem to have taken precisely the same line as the British government and the Irish government.

INTERVIEWER:

Don't you think perhaps that this is the time for the Americans to be showing displeasure with Gerry Adams rather than giving him favours?

PRIME MINISTER:

As I have said on every occasion in the past, whatever the American decision has been, it is a matter for the Americans and I have spelt out the circumstances in which the visa was granted, I think the other questions are for them.

INTERVIEWER:

Do you think they will put pressure on him, as you are putting pressure on him, to work for a resumption of the ceasefire, do you hope that Washington will do that?

PRIME MINISTER:

But the United States are doing that, the United States have been doing that continually and I have no doubt that they will continue to do it. They wish to see a ceasefire, they wish to see all-party talks begin and the have been very supportive of both the British government position and the Irish government position in that respect.

INTERVIEWER:

Do you have any expectation of a new statement from the IRA within the next week or so?

PRIME MINISTER:

I have no idea whether the IRA are going to make another statement. The statement they made the other evening was wholly inadequate, as I said at the time. We will have to wait and see. But the matter is for them, it is now a matter for them to decide. The option is there - they can decide to opt into a democratic process or they can exclude themselves, but it is their decision. I would prefer them to opt in on satisfactory conditions, but if they don't we will continue without them.

INTERVIEWER:

Was Mr Bruton happy with your remarks the other day about the IRA Army Council's response to the Downing Street agreement?

PRIME MINISTER:

I would imagine he would have agreed with them, we haven't spoken about them but I would imagine he would have agreed. He shares the same distaste for the way the IRA have behaved in recent years, as do most people.

INTERVIEWER:

Your backbenchers are incensed about the visa for Gerry Adams, what is your message to them? One of them at the moment is saying he can't say whether President Clinton is either naive or stupid?

PRIME MINISTER:

I have said what I have to say about the visa, I have nothing more to say about that.

INTERVIEWER:

You are moving on to Hong Kong. What sort of reception are you expecting there? Chris Patten has had a pretty rough time over the last year or so?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think it is understandable that people in Hong Kong are concerned about what is going to happen at the change of sovereignty in 1997. I shall be seeking to listen both to what LEGCO have to say, hearing what Hong Kong opinion is and also talking to them about how the changes are proceeding and what may happen between now and 1997 and thereafter. So I look forward to the trip.

INTERVIEWER:

Will you have good news for Hong Kong citizens on visa-free entry to the United Kingdom and do you think Britain could cope with a large influx?

PRIME MINISTER:

There are a large number of matters to discuss with people in Hong Kong but I will have to say what I have to say when I get there.

INTERVIEWER:

Do you have any comment on Ron Davies, the Shadow Welsh Secretary, who says the Prince of Wales is not fit to be King?

PRIME MINISTER:

I heard of those comments out here. I am absolutely astonished that somebody who is in the Shadow Cabinet, and who would presumably be the Welsh Secretary in a Labour administration, can speak in this fashion, particularly about someone who cannot answer back. I think most people will regard that as a pretty distasteful way to behave.

INTERVIEWER:

Do you think Mr Blair should sack him?

PRIME MINISTER:

It is a matter for Mr Blair, but he was unwilling to sack Mrs Harman for openly flouting Labour Party policy on education. I can't imagine that Mr Davies speaks for the majority of people in the Labour Party, but that is a matter for Mr Blair. If he chooses to keep people who openly disagree with his policy, and openly disagree with what the majority opinion is of people in the country, that is a matter for him.