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1996 - Mr Major’s Doorstep Interview in Dublin

Below is the text of Mr Major’s doorstep interview in Dublin, held on Saturday 5th October 1996.


QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if there was any point in today’s meeting].

PRIME MINISTER:

I think there is always a point in getting together to discuss matters that are still undecided. I think in many ways we are here because we are here. But I think there are interesting things to be discussed and we will have to see what emerges from the meeting.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if the meeting was caused by Britain’s strategy towards the IGC].

PRIME MINISTER:

No, certainly not. We are here because there are a whole series of decisions that are not yet addressed. Europe has to make a whole series of decisions at this IGC and beyond it. What Britain is doing is not being recalcitrant, what Britain is doing is saying those matters have got to be properly addressed, they have got to be properly examined. There is no point in talking about a great leap forward unless people know precisely where you are leaping. We have to look at precisely what is being examined and discuss precisely what it will mean. That is the purpose of meetings like this.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked what his key priorities were today].

PRIME MINISTER:

I will need to set out the things that concern us. There are some areas where I think that progress can be made: cooperation in justice and home affairs, for example; cooperation in subsidiarity for example; a re-weighing of votes in the European Union. These are all concrete matters that we can discuss. But I shall also need to say to people that we can’t accept the present situation on quota-hopping, as it is. I shall need to say to people that as far as the Working Time Directive is concerned, I believe that if the European Court of Justice finds against the United Kingdom, that that will breach and break the agreement that I reached at Maastricht, and I shall require a treaty change to amend that. So there are certainly important points for us to make.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if he would be discussing the single currency].

PRIME MINISTER:

That isn’t the subject of the meeting today. The meeting today is about the Intergovernmental Conference. I certainly don’t expect a substantive discussion on Economic and Monetary Union. But I think our partners know my view about that very well indeed. This is going to be one of the biggest decisions ever taken - be in doubt about that. It is going to affect the United Kingdom whether we are in it or out of it. It is going to affect every single country in Europe whether they are in a single currency or whether they are not. So every country has an interest in making sure that they are involved in the discussions and that the right decisions are taken. And if it isn’t right to go ahead, then they shouldn’t go ahead, but it is too early to be sure about that yet.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if he was worried at the pace the other countries wished to go].

PRIME MINISTER:

I think the worry is that the economic conditions won’t be right. That is the fundamental problem. If the single currency were to be formed and would fail, it would not only impact upon those countries that were in it, it would impact upon all of Europe. So we all have a very great interest in making sure that the economic conditions are right, quite apart from the other matters that need to be decided.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if he would be talking to John Bruton about the peace process in Northern Ireland].

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes, I have no doubt I will talk to Mr Bruton. We talk regularly on the telephone and we always take the opportunity of meetings to discuss where we are and what we think might happen, so I am sure we will be talking this afternoon.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if he was content to talk to some other EU leaders who had been backing Tony Blair].

PRIME MINISTER:

Well they are socialists, aren’t they? They are socialists and they would like a socialist government because they think a socialist government would give to Europe those things that a Conservative Government never would. So it is perfectly clear what they are doing, it is perfectly clear why they are doing it and I think it will show people in the United Kingdom very clearly. I don’t intend to let the sort of socialism that we put aside in the United Kingdom comes to the United Kingdom from Europe. If the Labour Party wants socialists from Europe, well, perhaps that sort of intervention at their conference will show up precisely what they are about.