Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

Complete list of 8,000+ Thatcher statements & texts of many of them

1984 Apr 19 Th
Margaret Thatcher

TV Interview for ITN (visiting Portugal)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: TV Interview
Venue: Lisbon
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: David Walter, ITN
Editorial comments: MT gave interviews 1915-35.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 765
Themes: Autobiography (marriage & children), European Union (general), European Union Budget, Foreign policy (Middle East), Foreign policy (Western Europe - non-EU), Terrorism

Question

Prime Minister, how far do you feel your visit has been overshadowed by the Libyan crisis?

Prime Minister

Well for me personally, it has obviously been seriously affected by it, because everywhere I have been I have constantly thought: ‘I wonder what is happening in London and in Tripoli. But I have known that the information that anything has happened has been flashed to me immediately and I have been kept in touch with proposed courses of action and with advice.

Question

Will you be going home to take charge of the situation?

Prime Minister

No, most certainly not. Leon BrittanThe Home Secretary is in charge. It is absolutely vital that the person who is in charge should be continuous and should be consistent. You simply go in suddenly on the middle of one of these things. You do not know precisely what has happened, precisely what the advice has been, who has been contacted. Continuity is vital in these matters.

Question

What about the area which is the Foreign Secretary's responsibility? There must be a great deal of worry about Britons in Libya.

Prime Minister

Sir Geoffrey HoweThe Foreign Secretary is also being kept in touch but, of course, the best advice the Foreign Secretary can give and the best advice coming from our Embassy in Tripoli has also been available to Leon Brittan and also the many people who have been with him on this matter.

Question

Colonel Gaddafi has today been talking about perhaps not being able to control his own people. That must be a source of additional worry. Isn't it?

Prime Minister

I have long since learned not to make instant comment on these matters. [end p1]

Question

Turning to your visit, you have said some very warm words about Portugal's application to join the Common Market. Do you see Portugal as an ally. Perhaps at times against the other existing nine members in the Common Market?

Prime Minister

You do not think of for and against in the Common Market. We are all partners in the same Community. I think it is very important to get all democracies in Europe into that Community and to show the world that we can live together, trade together, trade as a unit, and act as a unit. That is vital for many countries who would like to become democracies but who have not the chance.

Question

But you do have a common approach, do you not, to the budget problem, which is not shared by other members?

Prime Minister

Yes, we do, because if the present system were still to be carried on without change, Portugal would become a net contributor. Frankly, that is absurd. She is a poor country and for her to contribute to the well-being and welfare of countries far more wealthy than she is would be ridiculous.

Question

Would it be right to detect a rather more positive note about the EEC during your visit here, than perhaps we have heard recently?

Prime Minister

No, I have always been positive about the EEC, very positive indeed, and always believed firmly that the Community had a much greater future than that which she is exercising at present. But I have been very very anxious to get the problems like the common agricultural policy and surplus food—to get that solved—and also to get the budget solved. When we get those two things really tackled, then we can get on with the other important matters of Europe's influence in the world which should be much greater than it is. [end p2]

Question

Finally, Prime Minister, you revealed while you were here that you came here on your honeymoon. Were there any particular memories that were brought back during your visit?

Prime Minister

I looked around for some of the buildings and remembered some of the roads and some of the squares in Lisbon. Of course, I was married not long after the war and I remember when I came here we had been used to a world of great austerity and utility goods, and food rationing and clothes coupons and so on, and so we came into this world of Lisbon and saw many many goods of a luxury which we had not seen and I had almost forgotten that until I came here again. But Lisbon has changed. Tall buildings have gone up, many many factories have come and it just is not quite the same world, but there were some very happy memories.