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1992 - Mr Major’s Joint Doorstep Interview with Vice-President Quayle

Below is the text of Mr Major’s joint doorstep interview with US Vice-President Quayle, held outside 10 Downing Street on Tuesday 11th February 1992.


PRIME MINISTER:

We have had the opportunity over the last hour or so to range over a number of matters of some importance to both of us. We have spent some time discussing the present circumstances in the Uruguay Round and the absolutely imperative importance of making sure that the Round is completed and completed successfully and as speedily as possible. That has been a substantive part of our discussion.

We have also taken the opportunity to look at the present situation in NATO and the prospects for European defence and also the difficulties that exist in the Soviet Union, both the economic difficulties and of course our concern about the proper control of nuclear weapons both strategic and substrategic.

There have been a number of other bilateral matters but that has been the substance of our discussions over the last hour or so. I will invite the Vice-President to say a few words and then we might take a question or two from you.

May I just say in conclusion that it is a great pleasure to have the Vice-President here again and I look forward to continuing our discussions over dinner in a few moments.

VICE-PRESIDENT QUAYLE:

Thank you very much, Prime Minister. It is a pleasure to be back and let me again congratulate you on a tremendous UN Summit - I think it was very well done.

The Prime Minister has talked about a number of the issues that we talked about. Let me just mention a couple:

NATO - There will continue to be an American presence in Europe. We want to have a presence. It is not just in Europe's interest, it is in America's interest and when I travel around the country the American people understand the importance of maintaining a presence in Europe and that it is in our interest.

As far as the GATT negotiations are concerned, we must conclude those. There is no linkage between NATO and the troop strength and the successful conclusion of the GATT negotiations. It is imperative that we get on with it. Let us not replace the Cold War with a trade war. The Prime Minister has been very energetic in trying to bring this to a successful conclusion as has President George Bush and we will be working with our other friends and allies to try to accomplish this.


QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:

QUESTION (Adam Boulton, Sky News):

I wonder if I could ask both of you about the recession and when you see an end to it given that it threatens both your re-election prospects and also given the Bank of England's Quarterly Survey saying that the expected recovery is proving elusive in Britain and that no recovery in the level of activity has yet occurred.

PRIME MINISTER:

I think it would be a good deal more elusive if some of the policies that some people propound were actually put into place. I think that is certainly true but the recovery was always going to be jagged and irregular; I think that is what we are seeing.

There are signs in the United Kingdom that some areas are going to come out of recession a good deal earlier than others; precisely when that will be one can never be certain but that the basics are in place for a recovery I think now is generally accepted and by "the basics" I mean that inflation is now clearly under control - nobody believes that that is going to get out of control - the exchange rate is stable and I think companies have liquidated a good deal of their debt, as have individuals, and now find themselves in a better position both to reinvest and to spend as soon as they have the confidence factor there that will encourage them to do so.

The most critical point of all about the recession, of course, is that as we come out of the recession we come out of it in a way that is sustainable to ensure that we get steady and sustainable growth in the years ahead. It is going to be a very competitive decade for this country and for other countries and that stable and steady growth without inflation is going to be a priceless commodity for us and for other countries, so I think that is the United Kingdom position.

VICE-PRESIDENT QUAYLE:

The best medicine for recovery in the United States is for the Congress to pass the President's jobs package; he has submitted it to the Congress; he has set a deadline for March 20. I hope that the Congress responds. The sooner the Congress responds to the President's jobs package and passes it, the sooner the recovery is going to kick in.

QUESTION:

Vice-President, on the question of Haitian refugees or Haitian would-be migrants into the United States and the comparisons that have been made with the position of Vietnamese boat people in Hong Kong, have you reached a shared understanding of similarities or differences on that?

VICE-PRESIDENT QUAYLE:

We have a shared understanding of similarities and differences. We have a well-known policy and we know each other's concerns and policy on these matters.

QUESTION (Adam Boulton, Sky News):

Mr. Quayle, you have said that you want to keep an American presence in NATO here but how sure are you that the American people want to do that?

VICE-PRESIDENT QUAYLE:

I am convinced that the American people do because they know it is in their interest. We went home after World War I and you saw what happened. The American people know what it takes to have peace. We feel that our presence here is a strong force for peace and therefore there is no presidential candidate that I know on either side that is articulating that we are going to not have a presence in NATO. There is a difference of commitment and I can assure you that if President Bush is re-elected, which I think he will be, that there will be a strong presence in NATO and there should be no question about our commitment short-term and long-term.

This idea of isolationism being alive and well in America is just simply not the case. Yes, we have some on the left and we have some on the right and unfortunately those on the left and right when they make isolationist statements they get over-reported here in the United Kingdom and elsewhere but I can assure you that there is not this isolationist sentiment that is perceived over here. It is in America's interest to be in Europe and I think it is in Europe's interest to have America here.