Biography Chronology Home Search Speeches/Statements

1991 - Mr Major’s Doorstep Statement

Below is Mr Major's doorstep statement given in London on Sunday 24th February 1991.


PRIME MINISTER:

The Chief of the Defence Staff has just been briefing me on operational matters so far and I have also had the opportunity of talking to President Bush so we can concert the advice that we both had. The Chief of the Defence Staff has also been in close consultation with General Powell throughout the day.

Thus far things seem to be going very well indeed, we are pleased with what has happened so far. The plans do seem to be ahead of schedule and as you will have heard earlier there are a very substantial number of Iraqi prisoners that have been taken. I must say at this stage though that this is a very early stage of the campaign, it may well be tougher in days to come though the beginning has been as satisfactory as we could have hoped.

We are still getting continuing reports of atrocities in Kuwait City, the damage, damage to buildings, blowing up the Parliamentary building and the other atrocities that I mentioned earlier today, they are continuing and I think that does illustrate very clearly that we were right to take this action now and not to delay any longer. I am afraid there is no further information that I can give you at the moment but I am happy to take one or two questions on non-operational matters if that would be helpful.


QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, do you feel that the accounts coming out from some allied centres are in danger of being euphoric or are you yourself just saying cautious?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, I think it is right to be cautious, this is a very early stage of the campaign, we must wait and see what happens over a longer period. There may be more difficult days ahead than those we have had thus far.

QUESTION:

General Schwarzkopf has said that casualties had been very light, what do we know about the British forces and what happened to them?

PRIME MINISTER:

No I can give you no operational information of that sort but I can certainly confirm what General Schwarzkopf has said, the casualties have been very light so far.

QUESTION:

He also did mention British involvement. I know you cannot go into detail but can you just say a word or two about the extent of British involvement so far?

PRIME MINISTER:

British involvement is growing and I think that will become apparent over the days ahead but I am afraid I can give you no more information than that.

QUESTION:

Dick Cheney has said he thinks it is going to be a relatively short war, is that your reading of the situation?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think it will be relatively short, I think that is true, I do not think it is possible at this stage to put a time limit to it, that depends on a large number of matters that at the moment are simply not knowable. It has begun well, there is some way to go, but I do not think it will go on for a terribly long time.

QUESTION:

And the casualties, however light, what is your message to the families who are waiting at home and do not know any more than we do?

PRIME MINISTER:

Everyone can understand the agony of the people who are waiting at home and I am sorry one cannot give them more precise information. As soon as any information is available we will of course communicate it but it must of course be first to them I think.

QUESTION:

Can you give us a flavour of what you were able to say to President Bush or what he was able to say to you?

PRIME MINISTER:

We simply compared notes on how it had gone so far and how we expected it to develop from now on and I think that is all I can say about that.