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1996 - Mr Major’s Doorstep Interview in Turin

Below is the text of Mr Major’s doorstep interview in Turin on Friday 29th March 1996.


QUESTION:

Prime Minister, Good Morning and Happy Birthday.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you very much indeed.

QUESTION:

Can you tell us how this meeting can best contribute to the resolution of the beef crisis and what lessons do you think that carries for the way in which Europe does its business and the reforms you are going for?

PRIME MINISTER:

I have seen Prime Minister Dini this morning and we have discussed how to handle the matter mechanistically. I will discuss it this morning when we discuss the ICC and of course the two things are quite separate. But we will then have a subsequent discussion over luncheon. So that is how we will deal with it. And I think there is a general recognition that in the interests of all Europe this is a problem that has to be dealt with, it has to be dealt with comprehensively and has to be dealt with in a way that will restore consumer confidence, and that is what we will all be seeking to do.

QUESTION:

And the lessons for the future?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think that the lessons for the future are that we will continue to do what we have done in the past. There has been no occasion when we have not taken the best scientific and medical advice as to what we will do. The scientists, even today, will say to you that British beef is safe, they do say that. The problem is not truly whether British beef is safe today, the problem is that because of the hysteria that there has been is a crisis of confidence, it is not actually a health crisis but a crisis of confidence in the beef market and it is that problem in particular that we now have to address. Unfortunate, but that is the real world and that is what we must deal with.

QUESTION:

Are you not going to feel a bit uncomfortable about asking them in effect to pay out cash to help us out of a problem when we have been so critical about Europe in the past?

PRIME MINISTER:

I don't think that is remotely the situation. We will have to deal with a problem that affects everyone across Europe, it would affect the confidence of people right the way across Europe. That is the way other Heads of Government are seeing it, I have seen some of them already this morning. They have made it clear that that is the way that they see the problem. And I think it is in the interests of all Europe that we solve this problem that has a confidence impact on beef generally right the way across Europe. Beef Consumption has not only dropped in the United Kingdom, it has dropped quite dramatically in many other European Countries. So we all have a common interest in dealing with this problem of confidence, not of health, I emphasise again this is a problem of confidence that stretches right the way across Europe.

QUESTION:

Are you going to be able to tell them what we plan to do in the UK to relieve this problem and ask for their help for a specific plan?

PRIME MINISTER:

We will be discussing some of those matters. More detailed discussions are actually going on in Brussels at the moment, they are going on today, and I think it is highly likely that there will be a meeting of the Agriculture Council very shortly, perhaps on Monday. I think that is probable. So we will be discussing it this morning, yes, but quite what details we will deal with I am not in a position to tell you at the moment.

QUESTION:

Do you regret your very angry response when the European Commission first announced there would be a ban?

PRIME MINISTER:

I don't regret that.

QUESTION:

You don't think it makes things more difficult for you now?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, I do not.