Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1987 Dec 5 Sa
Margaret Thatcher

TV Interview for TV-AM (Copenhagen European Council)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: Eigtveds Pakhus, Copenhagen
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: Adam Boulton, TV-AM
Editorial comments: Evening. MT gave a press conference and interviews before departing for the airfield. She took off for Heathrow at 2025.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1229
Themes: Agriculture, Civil liberties, Defence (general), Defence (arms control), European Union Budget, Foreign policy (USA), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states)

Adam Boulton, TV-AM

Prime Minister, apparently a failed or at least no-score draw summit for the EEC, but it is nonetheless a personal triumph for you inasmuch as this time you are not isolated and you seem to have taught a lot of your EEC colleagues the values of housewifery?

Prime Minister

I think we have been very patient over the years and some of the messages are getting across. Really two main ones:

First, you know, they tend to run out of money very quickly. Every time you give them extra they run out of it and I rightly point out “housewives have to live within a budget; they have got to have a budget; they have got to learn to control their expenditure; you must learn the same. I mean, let us get methods of doing it!” They are now doing that; effective and binding controls are what I call it.

And then we have for ages been saying we have got to deal with surplus foods and we have got to stop new surpluses developing. We started with milk quotas but it has been very difficult on cereals, on oil seeds and on proteins and on a number of others. We now at this Council are tackling that more vigorously than I ever remember before and in much greater detail and if I were asked to [end p1] say what I thought was the greatest step forward in this Council, it would be in getting what are called agricultural stabilisers to see that we do not go on producing more food than we need or that we can sell overseas.

So yes, they have come a long way towards us and for that, yes, we are pleased.

Adam Boulton, TV-AM

You are meeting again in eight weeks time and, as you said, many people in the Community do appear to support the idea of stabilisers. On the other hand, the other two biggest net contributors, France and Germany, seem to be the people with the biggest problems.

Do you really think there is a chance that you will bring them round in the next eight weeks?

Prime Minister

Yes, I think so. We got a very long way with the detail as you will see, and that really is detailed stuff. Sometimes, it is so detailed on the technicalities of farming that you would not necessarily expect heads of government to deal with it. Yes, I do think so.

You know, it rather reminds me when we were having difficulties before on how much we should contribute and we felt we had never got a fair deal, at a very difficult meeting at Brussels three or four years ago, very difficult, and then the next one was [end p2] the one at which we got success with President Mitterrand in the chair. I think that will pretty much the same thing this time.

It has not been so difficult, but it has been very very hard detailed discussion and I think it will be the prelude to a successful meeting in February with Chancellor Kohl in the chair, and I think he will be determined to get a result.

All the discussion we have done this time will be helpful. It is just that we have not actually come right up to the hurdles and, of course, it is when you have to jump them that you really come across the difficulties.

Adam Boulton, TV-AM

One thing you have all agreed is the statement on East-West relations. You are going to be the European seeing Mr. Gorbachev on his way to Washington. What do you want to say to him then?

Prime Minister

Well, we will discuss arms control, of course, because that is right in the forefront, and we will discuss the way ahead in arms control.

I shall also ask him how his quite major historic reforms are going in the Soviet Union, because we have had several people over. We have seen his economic adviser; we have seen a number of people. We have seen his scientists who came to us. I think their first overseas visit from the academy. So there will be quite a lot to discuss about that and, of course, always the human rights cases. [end p3] We have been getting more out, but there are still a lot more left inside and there are still a lot of problems there.

Adam Boulton, TV-AM

You have spoken very strongly in your belief in the virtues of nuclear deterrence keeping in peace in Europe since the last war. Are you worried that President Reagan 's dream of a nuclear-free world and indeed Mr. Gorbachev 's support for that idea, could endanger Britain's security?

Prime Minister

No. Ronald ReaganThe President has made it very clear that for many many years the nuclear deterrent will be the most effective deterrent that we have and it will remain. It is our main shield and also NATO, SACEUR, has made it very clear too. General Galvin said: “It is not a nuclear-free Europe we seek, it is a war-free Europe!” and of course, the main way of keeping a war-free Europe is the nuclear deterrent. It is the most powerful deterrent to war the world has ever known.

Adam Boulton, TV-AM

The talks are, of course, going to go beyond eliminating intermediate nuclear forces. Which direction do you want the super powers to go now on disarmament? [end p4]

Prime Minister

They are looking very carefully at getting down the big intercontinental ballistic missiles by fifty percent, that is the United States ones and the Soviet Union ones, and I understand those talks are going quite well.

I expect they will have a look at the anti-ballistic missile treaty and I was very interested in that connection in Mr. Gorbachev 's last interview, where he did say that the Soviet Union was also doing SDI research, which we had always said they were, and therefore they are particularly interested in extending the notice under the anti-ballistic missile treaty, the notice that is required to be given.

Adam Boulton, TV-AM

At what point in the disarmament process would it be appropriate for Britain to put its own nuclear deterrent on the table?

Prime Minister

Not yet for a very long time. Even if they get the fifty percent reductions in the big intercontinental ballistic missiles and we shall get the modernisation of our nuclear deterrent up to Trident, Trident will be a smaller proportion of what they have got than Polaris was when we first had that. [end p5]

Adam Boulton, TV-AM

But you expect Britain to remain a nuclear power for your lifetime?

Prime Minister

Oh yes, yes I do.

Adam Boulton, TV-AM

Finally, you are one of the few world leaders who has dealt with President Reagan and Gorbachev across the table.

On the eve of their meeting, how would you assess their strengths and weaknesses?

Prime Minister

We are all different. I have known President Reagan for a very long time obviously and get on with him very well and have many views in common. I also get on very well with Mr. Gorbachev because we are both the kind of person prepared to discuss and defend the things we believe in and have a very frank discussion without there being any feeling of rancour at all, but to discuss in a very friendly and very frank way. But you know, we are all different.

Adam Boulton, TV-AM

Prime Minister, thank you very much indeed.