Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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1982 Apr 5 Mo
Margaret Thatcher

TV Interview for BBC (Falklands)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: TV Interview
Venue: No.10 Downing Street
Source: Thatcher Archive: transcript
Journalist: John Cole, BBC
Editorial comments: This interview followed the ITN interview which began at 1730. MT’s next appointment was at 1800. Film of the later part of the interview can be viewed here.
Importance ranking: Key
Word count: 668
Themes: Defence (Falklands War, 1982), Executive (appointments)

John Cole, BBC

Prime Minister, what new appointments have you made for the gaps in your government?

Mrs. Thatcher

I have appointed and the Queen has approved the appointment of Francis Pym to be Foreign Secretary, it’s not his first experience of foreign affairs, he was shadow Foreign Secretary when I was leader of the opposition, as you know he’s been Secretary of State for Northern Ireland under Ted Heath ’s government for a part of the time and then of course during my government at first he was Secretary of State for Defence, so he’s well known internationally, has a good deal of experience, was a very gallant soldier in the wartime, and is a man of considerable political stature.

John Cole, BBC

And his post as Leader of the House of Commons?

Mrs. Thatcher

His post as Leader of the House of Commons will be taken by John Biffen, very much a House of Commons man who loves the House of Commons and who is viewed, I think, with great affection and respect on all sides of the House. I’m sorry to lose him as Secretary of State of the Board of Trade, he’s been superb in that but the job of Leader of the House of Commons is very very important indeed and of course he’ll be Lord President of the council as well. Two, I think, very good appointments. [end p1]

John Cole, BBC

Now, Prime Minister, you’ve lost your Foreign Secretary and two of his team in the middle of an international crisis. Does that put the survival of your government at stake in this crisis?

Mrs. Thatcher

No, I don’t believe it does. It was with very very great regret that I heard of Peter Carrington ’s decision. I spent a long time on both Saturday and Sunday trying to dissuade him because I knew that, man of honour that he is, he would feel that if the policy pursued by his department failed, he would feel that he ought to resign. I felt, and you can understand this, that we needed Peter Carrington. I’ve been with him on so many international negotiations, he’s absolutely outstanding, but he put to me this point of honour and said that there had to be honour in politics, and he would feel it deeply if, and indeed Peter said I really wasn’t at liberty not to accept his resignation on those grounds, and I understand that view and of course Humphrey Atkins then was … also felt the same way, from the same department, so it was a very … it was a blow but in a way it’s never a blow for politics if you have someone who does what he deems to be the honourable thing.

John Cole, BBC

Prime Minister, I must ask you, do you feel any personal responsibility for what went wrong in this crisis?

Mrs. Thatcher

In the end of course the Prime Minister always does, when you see the Argentines invading the Falklands, we all feel the same, we all feel they’re British there and they owe the allegiance to the crown, that’s why I feel so deeply and strongly that we have to regain the Falklands for British sovereignty. [end p2]

John Cole, BBC

How far are you prepared to go?

Mrs. Thatcher

It is still British and the people still wish to be British and owe their allegiance to the Crown. How far? We are assembling I think the biggest fleet that’s ever sailed in peace time, excellent fleet, excellent equipment, superb soldiers and sailors, to show our quiet professional determination to retake the Falklands because we still regard them as sovereign British territory and the fact that someone else has invaded them does not alter that situation.

John Cole, BBC

And if that fails what are the political consequences?

Mrs. Thatcher

I am not talking about failure with the kind of fleet and the kind of people we have assembled. I’m talking very quietly about succeeding, in a very quiet, I hope, British way.

John Cole, BBC

Thank you, Prime Minister.