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1991 - Mr Major’s Joint Doorstep Interview with Brian Mulroney

Below is the text of a joint doorstep interview with John Major and the Canadian Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney. The doorstep interview was held in London on Sunday 14th July 1991.


PRIME MINISTER:

Good Morning. We have had the opportunity this morning to range over a large number of bilateral and international matters of mutual interest. On the bilateral front I was able to thank the Prime Minister personally for the tremendous help and assistance he was throughout the period of the Gulf war, there was a very close consultation throughout that period and one that was very much appreciated. The fact that the Canadian Field Hospital, so badly needed, was placed under British command was particularly welcome.

We have also had a series of discussions over recent months, the Prime Minister has been kind enough to contact me from various parts of the world from time to time to discuss matters in the lead-up to this summit. He has of course the advantage of having chaired one of these summits on a previous occasion. So we had a series of bilateral matters to discuss.

We also took the opportunity this morning of running through the agenda for the G7 and the subsequent meeting thereafter with President Gorbachev as well as matters of interest to us both as members of the Commonwealth. So we found it a most useful and productive preliminary meeting before the summit begins.

MR MULRONEY:

We had an excellent meeting this morning, as the Prime Minister has indicated, reviewing both bilateral matters and questions in regard to the run-up to the summit. Most recently I have had the occasion to spend some time with Prime Minister Kaifu and Chancellor Kohl and last Tuesday night a meeting with President Bush. And so it gave us an opportunity in respect of the agenda and Mr Gorbachev's visit to compare notes and to get ready for what I believe will be four very challenging and important days of summitry.

I thanked the Prime Minister for his contribution, his very generous contribution to the remarkably profitable and mutually beneficial bilateral relationship we have as evidenced by the very sensitive degree of cooperation and mutual understanding during the war.

And so we discussed the Commonwealth, we had to cancel a meeting that was scheduled here for June with the Commonwealth because of preoccupations we both had elsewhere, but we did have a chance to review some Commonwealth matters today before we meet again on that subject in Africa in October.

[More remarks in French but not interpreted].


QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, do you think you can do business with the Soviet President?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think we will have to discuss with President Gorbachev what he has to say when he gets here, there will be ample opportunity when President Gorbachev gets here for him to set out before the G7 Heads of State and Government what his proposals and plans are and then we will discuss it. But I think it would be courteous to hear what President Gorbachev has to say before I respond to that question.

QUESTION:

Are you happy with the reform package?

MR MULRONEY:

We are still analysing the package, it is a very complicated one, and we will have to see when the seven get together. Obviously President Gorbachev is approaching this in what appears to be a quite constructive manner, whether the G7 will be able to respond to this I somehow doubt it. I do not believe that you will see either miracles or blank cheques from the G7 summit. I hope that what will take place will be a serious response to a serious proposal under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Major and then there be a meeting with the Chairman of the Summit and President Gorbachev which I hope will give rise to a process whereby the response could be geared to the implementation of a programme for important structural reform.

But you are quite aware that for example some of the people around the table, not necessarily either of us, but some people round the table will raise questions like: Well if your economy is in such great difficulty, as it is, why will you persist in spending such vast amounts of money in refurbishing your military at a time when cash would seem to be scarce and ought to be placed into consumer goods and the rebuilding of your economy?

So I think this is the kind of debate that probably will take place with Mr Gorbachev in the room and if his answers are appropriate. if his answers are persuasive, he may find the general approach constructive. If his answers are not I would not want to presume on the outcome.

PRIME MINISTER:

The last point is the key, we need to know what President Gorbachev has to say.

QUESTION (Adam Boulton, Sky TV):

Both your national economies are in recession, do you think there is any chance that there will be a significant package emerging possibly from this summit?

PRIME MINISTER:

What we are going to discuss in this summit is not the individual economies of the United Kingdom and Canada and in both cases of course the principal problem that we have faced over some time has been inflation and in both cases that is beginning to abate and interest rates are beginning to fall so both economies are getting themselves into a position where there will be fresh growth. But I think there will be very considerable concern to make sure as we come out of the slow-down in world trade generally, a recession in some countries, a near recession in others, that we come out of it in a way that does not re-engender inflation, I think we will be very concerned to avoid that.

MR MULRONEY:

I would second that and just add one comment. We have had a tough recession in Canada but we seem to be out of it now and interest rates have come down by some 500 basis points over the last year, all of the signals would appear to be quite promising, and so we are hopeful that the policies to which Prime Minister Major referred coming out of this summit will allow for quite strong growth in Canada but in a non-inflationary climate. That is what I think we are all looking for.

QUESTION:

Mr Mulroney, is there a chance that trade disputes will be used as a bargaining chip to unify the group over aid to the Soviet Union?

MR MULRONEY:

Not a chance.

QUESTION:

You have had a chance to look at the economic package as proposed by Mr Gorbachev, it seems that initially you have given it a somewhat dusty response, you are not terribly impressed with it?

PRIME MINISTER:

I have examined it overnight, we have not had a chance to do an analysis in detail, it is clearly built on the Pavlov plan. What one needs to do is to determine to what extent it can be carried out, what the impact would be of it being carried out, whether it is a plan that can be carried out by the Soviet Union at the centre or whether it actually needs the active cooperation of the Republics, to what extent it would get the active cooperation of the Republics, what it actually means in terms of draconian measures within the Soviet economy.

All those are matters that actually deserve some form of detailed study before we pronounce upon it. That study is being undertaken at the moment and will be concluded before we have the meeting with President Gorbachev later on this week. So we will not only wish to study it in detail, as we are doing, and how it would be implemented in detail, we will also wish to hear what President Gorbachev has to say about it. For there are two points to be considered: one is that it is perfectly desirable and satisfactory to set out an economic reform programme, but it only actually has a practical application if the economic reform programme is actually carried into operation and is successful and there are a vast range of matters to consider about that and to ask President Gorbachev about.

So that is why I genuinely think that we need to have this dialogue with President Gorbachev before we can reach conclusions upon it. It is very complex, as the Prime Minister said a moment or so ago, very complex indeed, we will want to analyse it, consider it, discuss it, listen to President Gorbachev and then we will be in a better position to draw conclusions about it.

MR MULRONEY:

Exactly what John has said - what does privatisation really mean to him? What does price liberalisation mean? What does currency stabilisation mean to him and how does he see technical assistance? There are definitions that I think are quite important and probably quite different but the only way we are going to find out is the 8 of us around the table, 7 with him. And so I think that will be how the Prime Minister has been leading us all if the truth be known, in a very demanding build-up to this, he has been in bilateral communication with all of us frequently and I think very effectively and so Prime Minister Major has ensured that all of us come to this summit well acquainted with the difficulties and the challenges and the pitfalls that we are going to confront and ready to I think come together, I hope, with a common response to that.

QUESTION:

[In French and not interpreted]

MR MULRONEY:

[In French and not interpreted]

QUESTION:

Is it too early to call it the G8?

PRIME MINISTER:

It is too early.