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1997 - Mr Major’s Doorstep Interview in Huntingdon

Below is the text of Mr Major’s doorstep interview in Huntingdon, held on Friday 24th January 1997.


QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked what he thought of the comments made by Leon Brittan].

PRIME MINISTER:

We have set out a policy of negotiating and deciding. That has been our policy for a long time and Leon Brittan has supported that policy. I didn’t him but I understand he did so again this morning. What we have been focusing on in the last few days is the economic criteria as to when and whether it might be safe to consider this properly. We have reached the judgement it is highly unlikely that the condition will be right for Europe itself - whether or not we are in it - to go ahead on 1st January 1999. The Cabinet reached that conclusion yesterday and self-evidently, if it isn’t right, we are not going to go ahead on that particular date. That is perfectly clear.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if he was surprised that this policy hadn’t won over the Euro-sceptics in his party].

PRIME MINISTER:

You make an assertion that I don’t intend to comment upon. We have set out our policy for a long time. Our policy is in the national interest. We have set out a national interest policy and set it out very clearly so there is no misunderstanding. We have now looked at what the economic conditions are across Europe and reached a judgement on whether it is likely to be safe for our European partners or anyone to go ahead with the single currency on 1st January 1999. And upon the available evidence to us at present, we think it is unlikely, very unlikely, that they could safely proceed.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if 40 Euro-sceptics could defect after the General Election].

PRIME MINISTER:

It is completely off-beam - a story that has emerged from time to time, usually without any names and one that has usually been denied in the past. It seems to have re-emerged, it’s completely off-beam. As far as I’m aware there is nothing to justify it.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked about Tony Blair’s Amsterdam speech].

PRIME MINISTER:

I haven’t read the details of everything the leader of the Labour Party plans to say but from what I know of what he plans to say, for example, after-school clubs for children, they have been our policy for some time. We have devoted many tens of million of pounds to them. I visited one very recently. They are a very good idea. They are our policy. I am afraid this is another example of the jackdaw tendency of the Labour Party, but if we leave a good policy lying around they will certainly scoop it up, shine it brightly and claim it as a brand new policy for themselves. But it isn’t. It is our policy, but I strongly suspect he has a watered down version of it. Beyond that, I understand what is in his speech will involve a good deal of expenditure and exclude private sector involvement which we would seek to include, so I expect there is not a good deal in the speech except for some copycat policies of ours.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked about the return of Alan Clark].

PRIME MINISTER:

Alan Clark is an original. Everyone in the House of Commons knows he is an original. And he will being a dash of colour. It’s not just the question of the dash of colour and the originality of Alan Clark. There’s a very shrewd, clever, intelligent politician returning to the House of Commons and of course I welcome that.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if he would give Alan Clark a Governmental role].

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I’m not going to carry out my next Government reshuffle now, but I’m delighted you acknowledge there is going to be one.