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1996 - Mr Major’s Doorstep Interview in Florence

Below is the text of Mr Major’s doorstep interview in Florence on Thursday 20th June 1996.


QUESTION:

Prime Minister, if a deal is reached, are you convinced it will show that the non-cooperation policy was worth it?

PRIME MINISTER:

Of course I am convinced it would show that. We sought a deal for a long time and we were unable to make progress with our partners, for eight weeks we were unable to make progress. Over the last four weeks we have made progress. I don’t yet know whether we will be able to reach a deal tomorrow. I am here to negotiate. I am here to reach a deal if a satisfactory deal if obtainable. I shan’t know that until the morning. If we can get a deal, we will get a deal; if we can’t, then we will have to continue.

QUESTION:

What do you require from this non-cooperation policy?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think that is a matter for negotiation with our partners and I will discuss that with them in the morning.

QUESTION:

Have you been upset by accusations that you have climbed down?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well we haven’t, so I am unlikely to be upset by something that frankly is not true. Some of the stories we have seen over the last 24 hours are from Alice in Wonderland, they have no basis in fact whatsoever, they are just complete nonsense.

QUESTION:

No question of a climb-down?

PRIME MINISTER:

There is no question of a climb-down and you know that as well as I do, John, absolute nonsense. We have set out our position. We have been in a position and ready to negotiate. I hope we are going to reach a satisfactory agreement. Tomorrow we will find out whether we can or not. I very much hope we can.

QUESTION:

Has it been worth the resentment caused in Europe and will you be apologising for the disruption?

PRIME MINISTER:

I don’t have to be apologising for the disruption. You need to remember how this started. This started because our European partners were not cooperating with the proposals of the Commission and the proposals of the scientists to lift the ban on beef derivatives. It was their non-cooperation that forced the United Kingdom to take the stand that we did. And I think you have to remember why we did it. We did it because I am determined to get a settlement in the interests of the British beef industry. There are 650,000 people engaged in the British beef industry who require us to reach a settlement. Now if a few people are going to complain and gripe about our tactics, well I am afraid that is life and that is politics. What I require is a settlement and I hope we are going to get a settlement over the next day or so. We shall see.