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1991 - Mr Major’s Doorstep Interview in Maastricht

Below is Mr Major's doorstep interview in Maastricht on Monday 9th December 1991.


QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:

MICHAEL BRUNSON (ITV):

Can I just ask you about the Soviet Union? Do you share Mr. Baker's fears that it could be like Yugoslavia only worse?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think it is too early to be quite clear what is happening there. Clearly, we are concerned about what has happened and we have been in touch with the United States overnight and shall be having a meeting about the matter with President Mitterrand this morning.

We have also decided to send our Political Director to the Soviet Union and he will go later this week.

MICHAEL BRUNSON:

Do you fear that there is a real chance of it splitting apart with violence?

PRIME MINISTER:

There is certainly that possibility. We have several principal concerns, of course. Firstly, the control of nuclear weapons - that is critical; secondly, the position of human rights within the Soviet Union - that is equally important; and thirdly, of course, the position about the Soviet Union sovereign debt. All those are matters that need to be determined and need to be determined quickly.

MICHAEL BRUNSON:

Can I just ask you about your meeting with Mr. Lubbers last night? Did you manage to narrow any of the differences?

PRIME MINISTER:

There are many differences and it is a mistake to assume that all the differences and difficulties here are differences and difficulties between the United Kingdom and our colleagues in Europe - that is not the case. There are very many countries that have particular difficulties with substantial parts of one or other of the treaties.

We were substantially discussing last night how the meetings will be run, what the mechanism will be and what the decision-making process ultimately will be like.

MICHAEL BRUNSON:

What about M. Delors, remarks yesterday about us being a country that says "No, no, no!"?

PRIME MINISTER:

This is a meeting of Heads of Government to determine what goes in the new treaties. I am not going to comment very much about the Commission.

JAMES NAUGHTIE (BBC):

Prime Minister, do you think you'll get an opt-out clause in the single currency that will be acceptable?

PRIME MINISTER:

We have made it absolutely clear throughout the whole of these discussions that there is no possibility whatsoever of the United Kingdom committing itself now either to whether or when it will enter into a single currency. Without such an agreement, there will be no agreement to the Economic and Monetary Union treaty so there must be the certainty not of an opt-out but of an opt-in clause - it has always inaccurately called an "opt-out clause". How that will be determined, we shall discover in the negotiations in the next two days.

MICHAEL BRUNSON:

Do you see any chance of movement or the possibility of moving towards movement on the Social Chapter?

PRIME MINISTER:

The Social Chapter is not an attractive preposition in any way; it would impose huge costs on British industry and commerce; it is very strongly opposed by British industry and commerce; it would cost jobs; it would cost competitiveness.

The gainer from the Social Charter will not be the workers of Europe. The gainer from the Social Charter will be the Japanese and the Americans who will gain competitiveness at the expense of Europe. I shall put those arguments to our colleagues.