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1991 - Mr Major’s Comments on the General Election

Below is the text of Mr Major’s comments on the General Election, made in an interview on board a plane from Hong Kong to London on Friday 6th September 1991.


QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked whether there would be a November General Election].

PRIME MINISTER:

I think there is bound to be this sort of speculation as we move into the fifth term of Parliament, but I am in no particular rush. I am confident that the economy is beginning to turn round; the early signs are there. As we have always said, we expected the recovery in the second half of the year and I think it will increasingly become apparent that that judgement is right.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if he wanted his own mandate].

PRIME MINISTER:

I will have the verdict of the country at some stage before next June; whether it happens to be this autumn or whether it is next spring, isn’t really material. I think one has to pick the right moment for an election; there are many things to consider and I will consider them all very carefully.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if he was being cautious].

PRIME MINISTER:

I think you would be very surprised if I wasn’t. In due course we will have an election but I’ll announce when it is when I am ready to do so.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if Britain was leaving recession].

PRIME MINISTER:

I don’t think it is surprising that people are beginning to feel a little better about the economy. It has been a tough recession and I understand that; a number of people have been hurt by the recession and I am very well aware of that but what is now happening is I think people have perceived that interest rates have fallen from 15 percent to 10.5 percent, inflation has just about halved from 10.9 percent to 5.5 percent; I think there is now an expectation that inflation will continue to fall and I agree with that expectation, but now business itself and the consumer are beginning to sense that a recovery is now no longer very far away. I agree with that judgement and that, of course, explains the economic optimism.

It isn’t going to be a sudden bound into a great boom and now would that be good for the economy, but I think that our judgement was right. We have seen the worst of the recession behind us. I think it will become apparent that we are moving out of the recession.