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1996 - Mr Major’s Comments on the British Beef Ban

Below is the text of Mr Major’s comments on the British beef ban, made during an interview in Florence held on Saturday 22nd June 1996


QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if the policy of non-cooperation had been necessary].

PRIME MINISTER:

Self-evidently, it was necessary. In the eight weeks after this crisis broke, we made no progress at all with our European partners. In the four weeks since the non-cooperation policy started, we have produced an eradication plan, unanimously approved; we have also agreed a framework document, approved by the Commission and approved by all the other member states. There is no question but that we would not have achieved that but for the policy we adopted, no question at all.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if people were calling it a hollow victory].

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, you had better ask them, don’t ask me. They must make their own judgements. I am telling you what actually happened.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if he had his party’s full support on both this policy and on the general European Union policy].

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes, I believe so. I think people wish to see that Britain will maintain a distinctive role within the European Union and stand up for the things that are of concern and of interest to this country, and that is the government’s policy and that is what my colleagues wish to see.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if the non-cooperation policy had damaged our reputation in the European Union].

PRIME MINISTER:

Are you more concerned with image or with substance? What your questions ignore is the fact that what we were looking at were the interests of 650,000 people, many of them perhaps listening to this programme, who work in the beef industry. My job, as Prime Minister, is to worry about the interests of the United Kingdom and the interests of people in the beef industry - that is what I was doing. And if I hadn’t done that, you would be saying to me today; why are you concerned about your image in Europe rather than the interests of British citizens working in the beef industry? And you would be right to ask that question.