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1996 - Mr Major’s Doorstep Interview in Florence

Below is the text of Mr Major’s doorstep interview in Florence, held on Saturday 22nd June 1996.


QUESTION:

Prime Minister, bar getting your deal on beef, is this summit all over apart from the usual shouting?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, there are quite a few other things still to be determined, but I don't anticipate any real difficulties on any other issues.

QUESTION:

On the jobs question, do you believe that politicians really can do much to create jobs?

PRIME MINISTER:

Essentially business creates jobs, not politicians. But I think the economic policies that politicians follow, whether they place extra burdens on business or not, clearly makes it possible for business to create jobs, or inhibits business in creating jobs. So politicians don't create them directly, but indirectly their policies have a dramatic effect.

QUESTION:

And does that mean you support the proposals on jobs that are going to be discussed here in Florence?

PRIME MINISTER:

Some of them yes, I mean some of the proposals, some of those discussions that we had at Essen for example on supply side reforms, I very much support those. Some of the others are I think less worthwhile.

QUESTION:

What about the agenda on further European integration and EMU, do you think much progress is going to be made here?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, I don't think there is going to be any practical progress made here, that is going to be in the negotiations that have now begun and will carry on throughout the next year or so. We have set out our position in a White Paper, and everyone is aware of that, but there will be no decisions made today.

QUESTION:

The big arms find that has been made in the Irish Republic, have you been able to have discussions with Mr Bruton here and to take the process forward?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes, I spoke to John Bruton about that yesterday, it is extremely good news. It clearly is a very big arms find and very worthwhile and I congratulate the Irish on having achieved it. It also seems that there is now such distaste for Sinn Fein and the IRA that the public are increasingly inclined to give information, and I think that is very helpful.

QUESTION:

Does it suggest that the ceasefire is well and truly over?

PRIME MINISTER:

It is very difficult to understand the psychology of the IRA. They don't judge matters in the same way that anybody else does. So I think it is very difficult to make a judgment about what they will do. Certainly their actions recently are despicable, there is no other word for it. What they did at Manchester was inhuman. That bomb was left there in a shopping centre, on a day when it could have been expected to have been crowded, and it is astonishing that very large numbers of people were not killed.

QUESTION:

Are you going to be able to watch the football today, which is the best thing for 30 years?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well they certainly played magnificently earlier in the week. I hope the European Council will finish in time to watch the whole match before we leave, I doubt that it will, but I hope to watch the second half before we leave, certainly.

QUESTION:

And you wish them the best of luck?

PRIME MINISTER:

I most certainly do. Like everyone else in England I shall have my fingers crossed for them.

QUESTION:

You have said that the non-cooperation policy has shown itself to be successful, does that mean you have got an appetite for blocking now, that you might use this tactic again?

PRIME MINISTER:

There were special circumstances, weren't there? This wasn't a question where there was just an agreement or a disagreement. This was a question where we had tried for some weeks to make progress, where progress had not been forthcoming, where one nation state was facing a particular problem and did not to me seem to be getting the cooperation from our partners that we should have deserved. But I hope that no such circumstances will arise again.

QUESTION:

Some of your fellow Prime Ministers say that this demonstrates the national veto must be limited at the Intergovernmental Conference for all future decision-making. This strengthens their hand, doesn't it?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, it doesn't because the Intergovernmental Conference is by unanimity. And there is no question of us giving up the national veto. It would not be appropriate for us to do so and I have no intention of doing so.