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1996 - Mr Major’s Doorstep Interview

Below is the text of Mr Major’s doorstep interview held on Friday 12th July 1996.


QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked his opinion on the European Court decision on beef exports].

PRIME MINISTER:

I haven’t seen the detailed argumentation yet. All I have heard thus far is that they seem to have accepted many of our arguments but not reached a favourable decision. I don’t know why. I haven’t seen the judgement. It’s very long and complex, but it’s clearly very disappointing and frankly rather surprising.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked what he would do now].

PRIME MINISTER:

I will have to study the decision. What this court decision was about was dealing with a fairly small element of the whole problem. What we still need to do with the beef industry is to continue to restore confidence in British beef. That is the most important thing. I think there is no reason not to have confidence in British beef. We must persuade consumers of that and I think that largely now they are persuaded and also abroad.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked whether his meeting with John Bruton was both frank and tough].

PRIME MINISTER:

It was both of those things. That’s certainly true. But then John Bruton and I know one another very well. There is no point in us dissembling with one another. We had some frank exchanges on the issue.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked his reaction to the policemen injured in Northern Ireland].

PRIME MINISTER:

It’s indefensible. What we have seen in Northern Ireland in the last few days is thuggishness. Thuggishness on both sides. It’s all very well for everyone attributing blame to one side or another. The truth is it is on both sides and it is utterly unacceptable.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked whether any political pressure can been used on the RUC].

PRIME MINISTER:

The Government brought no pressure to bear on the RUC. This was a police operational decision as it had to be a police operational decision. The Chief Constable has made that clear. I wish Sinn Fein would stop telling lies. The reality is that if the Chief Constable had not acted as he did, people’s lives would have been lost. The Chief Constable’s responsibility is to maintain law and order and preserve property and people’s lives. I can just imagine what Sinn Fein and others would have said if the Chief Constable hadn’t acted as he did, if the matter had then got out of control as he believed it would, and lives had been lost. I wonder what Sinn Fein, with their double standards, would have said then.