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1993 - Mr Major’s Comments on Party Unity

Below is the text of Mr Major’s comments on the unity of the Conservative Party, made during an interview held in London on Friday 23rd July 1993.


QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if the Party’s unanimous support in the vote of confidence was genuine].

PRIME MINISTER:

I do not think there is any doubt that the Conservative Party is united, you will have seen the atmosphere in the House throughout the day and certainly in the Division Lobbies. The European discuss that we have had, the debate, the difficulties, we have drawn a line under that in the Division Lobbies today. What we now move forward to is the agenda upon which we are wholly united - returning to the difficulties of dealing with crime matters, I am very keen to look at that in the next legislative programme, it will be the centre-piece of our programme, and also of course to return to growth in the economy where more statistics released today show yet again that the economy is growing.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if he had shown himself to be a weak leader].

PRIME MINISTER:

The Government must have its legislation, if the Government cannot carry its legislation the Government cannot stay in office. There was no doubt that there was a huge majority for the European Community’s Amendment Act, it was an act, it had been passed by Parliament, it had had Royal Assent from the Queen. What was happening was frankly an unscrupulous cross-party alliance with the Labour Party and the Liberal Party voting against what they believed in simply to embarrass the Government, that was what had caused the blockage and the difficulty, it was necessary to unblock that and that is what I did.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if he regretted the way he got the legislation through and also the way he made the social chapter such a large matter].

PRIME MINISTER:

But the social chapter would be very damaging for this country, I did not make a big issue of the social chapter, it is a big issue. Every businessman and every business lobby in this country will tell you the same thing, the social chapter may sound very benign, it does, it really is a job destruction programme. I want to put people back into work, I do not want to have them forced out of work, I simply cannot understand the enthusiasm of the Labour party and the Liberal Party for more controls, more regulation, more costs on employers and greater unemployment, that is what is would to, I want no part of that.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if he was referring to low-skilled jobs as Labour had suggested].

PRIME MINISTER:

They have produced some of the most absurd arguments I have ever heard in Parliament about this. Go and talk to the people who actually provide the jobs in this country.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if those in work had rights as well].

PRIME MINISTER:

Indeed they do and one of the rights they have is the right to keep their job and not be forced out of it by excessive costs on their employers. Ask the people who provide jobs in this country, it is not the Government, it is not the Labour Party, it is not the Liberal Party, it is the businessmen who run the large companies in this country. Ask Denys Henderson, the Chairman of ICI, one of the biggest employers in the country, he will tell you very crisply that the social charter is bad news for employment, so will every large businessman. The Labour Party may choose to say the trade unions like it, therefore we are in favour of it, but it will cost people jobs and I think that is unscrupulous.