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1996 - Mr Major’s Doorstep Interview in Bordeaux

Below is the text of Mr Major’s doorstep interview in Bordeaux, held on Thursday 7th November 1996.


QUESTION:

Prime Minister, a crowded agenda today, I wonder if I could ask you first of all about the fight against drugs, that is clearly an area of great Anglo-French cooperation?

PRIME MINISTER:

It is, and growing Anglo-French cooperation. It is a matter that both countries feel very strongly about. What we have seen this afternoon in some of the practical cooperation that goes on to try and stop drugs, not just as they pass through our countries but to track them back to source.

QUESTION:

Another area of cooperation in Europe is of course Airbus and it does appear that that is one area where European industry in beating American industry?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well European industry has done extremely well. Many people were very cynical when the Airbus Agreement was originally made. But what we have seen is Airbus moving from a very small enterprise into one of the very big players in the aeroplane market and they have just had a spectacular success with an order from the United States and I am absolutely delighted about that.

QUESTION:

And does that mean that they could even overtake the mighty Boeing one day?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well that is certainly their ambition and I see no reason why they shouldn’t achieve it. They are planning to develop their equivalent of the 747, that will complete their range of aircraft. They are already very big players in the world market and they have plans to become bigger players. It is I think without any doubt the most spectacular example of European collaboration in industry.

QUESTION:

Looking ahead to your summit tomorrow, it does appear that Europe once again will dominate. Given that there seem to be very different attitudes in France towards the single currency, and indeed towards the Intergovernmental Conference, do you think it will be a fairly tense session of discussions?

PRIME MINISTER:

Good gracious no. I know Jacques Chirac far too well for it to be a tense series of discussions. We have a whole range of areas in the Intergovernmental Conference where we have either the same or very similar views. They are not identical on every issue but it is certainly not going to be tense in any way. We will set out our views and we will discuss the matters that need to be determined, both in terms of the Intergovernmental Conference itself and also of course Economic and Monetary Union.

QUESTION:

But there is still this big division on further integration, isn’t there?

PRIME MINISTER:

We have different views on some things, that is certainly true, but I think every individual country in Europe has differing views on something or other, I don’t see any great problems with that, we will discuss those differences.

QUESTION:

And do you think they understand why Britain wants to participate in a single currency discussion without necessarily committing itself in the end?

PRIME MINISTER:

I don’t have any doubt about that. Everybody knows there are very serious technical decisions to be taken that are going to affect every country right across Europe and we need to make sure that we get those discussions right. That is as important for France, as it is for the United Kingdom, as it is for Germany. So I think everybody wants to see the fullest collaboration in the discussions.

QUESTION:

There is one area I suppose where Britain and France share a former imperial history. There is now great concern about what is happening in the Great Lakes area of Africa. The French have come up with some ideas for international intervention of some kind, is that something which you think Britain, if you are asked about it, will be able to give you a positive answer on?

PRIME MINISTER:

I am sure it is something we will discuss. There are a range of ideas that are now floating about and I think it is moving quite rapidly to the head of the agenda in the United Nations and in most of the leading countries that are involved in the United Nations. There is no doubt about the seriousness of the problem, I think that is self-evident. There is no doubt that in one way or another the international community will be required to help. Quite how and quite what will be necessary is one of the things I expect we will discuss tomorrow.