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1995 - Mr Major’s Doorstep Interview in Halifax

Below is the text of Mr Major’s doorstep interview in Halifax on Friday 16th June 1995.


QUESTION:

Prime Minister, on the economic front, what has this G7 summit achieved?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think there is quite a thick stub of real substance in the midst of what has been agreed over the last couple of days. If I can just take some of the things at random. I think that the proposals at the United Nations, to have a look at the reform of the United Nations and reform of the way the financial institutions operate, in essence to try to encapsulate it, to try and make sure there are no more Mexicos, with all the knock-on effects that that had, I think that is a real area of substance. The agreement to have a second Jobs Conference, similar to the one in Detroit, and to concentrate particularly on a whole series of remedies that the UK have proposed in the past, that the OECD have set out, I think that is a very substantial move forward. I think there are a range of areas like that, I will take them individually in questions rather than run through them all, you have seen the communique, but I think there is a lot in it.

QUESTION:

Hasn’t the G7 been hijacked by the tactics of the Bosnian Muslims?

PRIME MINISTER:

I don’t think so. Clearly we have spent a lot of time discussing what was happening in Bosnia, a matter of very great concern to us, but to say it was hijacked I think is wrong because the substance is still there, the agreements have still been made and as a result of that things will occur that otherwise would not have done. So no it has not been hijacked but it is a very important matter.

QUESTION:

What about this disagreement you have had with Chancellor Kohl over the Brent Spar, how seriously damaging to you think that is to your relationship?

PRIME MINISTER:

Even the best of friends don’t agree on every occasion. On this occasion we have taken a different view of this particular matter. I think that the way of disposing of Brent Spar is in accordance with international agreements, it is in accordance with safety, it is in accordance with logic. I think the companies are right to dispose of Brent Spar in this way and I have indicated that that is my view.

QUESTION:

They have decided to delay the sinking of it, do you agree with that?

PRIME MINISTER:

It is not a matter for me. I am not aware that that is the case, no doubt that is being discussed elsewhere. But I have been asked whether I agree that that is a credible way to dispose of the Brent Spar. I do. Indeed if you consider the environmental alternatives, to try and bring the Brent Spar, something of that size, in shore, with the danger of it breaking up as it came in shore, might well be a greater environmental danger and I think people really need to consider that.

QUESTION:

Do you think there will be a total pull-out on Bosnia?

PRIME MINISTER:

I am not in favour of a total pull-out. At the moment events are still developing in and around Sarajevo, and conceivably elsewhere. But at the moment I am not in favour of a total pull-out and I simply reiterate the point I have made many times before, if the United Nations Protection Forces were forced to come out of Bosnia as a whole I believe that would be disastrous, it could happen but I believe that would be disastrous. It would open up the way to a much wider and more bitter level of fighting than anything we have seen before, a lot of people would undoubtedly be killed. And anyone who believes that the major Western states could just walk away from Bosnia with having no interest to what the wider impact of that war would be, I think is very badly mistaken. Whether we like it or not, all of us have an interest there, I hope we can stay and minimise the fighting, minimise the killing and seek a political settlement, with UNPROFOR remaining in Bosnia. But even if events conspire to force them out, we would still have to retain an interest in it and I think a military interest in it as well.

QUESTION:

Are you pleased that Mr Portillo and Mr Heseltine have both backed you today as both Party leader and Prime Minister?

PRIME MINISTER:

I have been here, I have no idea what has been happening as far as that is concerned at home. I have been here looking at the agenda we have been discussing, we have been discussing Russia and a whole range of other things and I certainly have not had my mind on that.

QUESTION:

The 1922 Committee say that you need to sharpen up your act, whatever that means, is there anything you think the government can do to achieve that and do you think you will still be leader of the Conservative Party after this November?

PRIME MINISTER:

Let me take those points in the round. If the events of the last week have persuaded people that I set out a course some time ago, that I believe that to be the right course and that I am not going to be pushed off that course, then perhaps the events of the last week have served some good purpose. I have set out a course, I do believe it is the right course, it is a long term course, it is sensible, it is pragmatic, it has been carefully thought through and it is not going to be changed. But if anybody wants to know where we are going, we are going in the direction I have set out and I have no intention of moving away from it. I hope that is clear enough for you. OK?!