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1991 - Mr Major’s Comments on Becoming Prime Minister

Below is the text of Mr Major’s comments on becoming Prime Minister, made in an interview on 6th January 1991.


QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked when he heard that Margaret Thatcher was resigning].

PRIME MINISTER:

I heard it very late on the evening before she told Cabinet the next day, and as you know I was at home recovering from a wisdom tooth operation and I was telephoned and told late in the evening.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if he shed a tear when she resigned].

PRIME MINISTER:

I was very sorry, yes, I mean she has had a remarkable record. I think there’s no doubt whatsoever that when historians come to write the history of the last 10 or 11 years she is a dominating figure. And if you look back through the span of years from the turn of the century there are two or three figures who have actually dominated British politics at one time or another and Margaret Thatcher is amongst those, so it was a very sad day, I think, yes.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if all the back seat driver talk was untrue].

PRIME MINISTER:

It was also out of context.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked whether he had consulted Margaret Thatcher and whether he would listen to her advice].

PRIME MINISTER:

We always had a very good relationship when she was Prime Minister as indeed did most of her members of her government with her. I think that is the case and I see no reason for that friendly relationship not to continue in the future, yes. She is a repository of great experience and from time to time I would be very silly if I didn’t, if I didn’t tap into that.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if he had asked her advice yet].

PRIME MINISTER:

I’ve spoken to her, I’ve spoken to her on a number of occasions, I don’t know that I’ve consulted her in terms that you mean, certainly not. But we’ve certainly spoken on a number of occasions, yes.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if she could have won on a second ballot in the leadership election].

PRIME MINISTER:

I don’t know, she’s a very remarkable politician. I certainly wouldn’t have ruled it out.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if he instinctively knew he wouldn’t her second Margaret Thatcher’s nomination in the second round].

PRIME MINISTER:

No, I didn’t instinctively make up my mind about that. The final decision to do that wasn’t really taken until the following morning around 11am, one hour before nominations closed. There was no decision as to whether I would stand until that time. And it wasn’t until one hour before the nominations closed that I actually had a nominator and a seconder. So the decision was taken at a very late stage. I of course was Mrs Thatcher’s seconder and I expected to second her and to support her and to try and encourage colleagues to vote for her on the second ballot and I would have done that with a will.