Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1987 Dec 5 Sa
Margaret Thatcher

Radio Interview for IRN (Copenhagen European Council)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: Radio Interview
Venue: Eigtveds Pakhus, Copenhagen
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: John Fraser, IRN
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: 1210
Themes: Agriculture, European Union Budget, Foreign policy (Western Europe - non-EU), Health policy, Northern Ireland, Terrorism

John Fraser, IRN

Well, Mrs Thatcher, first of all may I ask you: this summit has failed but you seem to be happier that it has failed than there might have been a fudged deal.

Prime Minister

I think the very worst thing would have been if the Community had not faced up to the agricultural surpluses and therefore had said “all right, well let's do a fudged deal, let's not have effective and binding control, and let's just agree on something and that will be better” . No, we have got a very long way on discussing the agricultural situation, we have got a large measure of agreement, but that is not the only thing—there are other things as well. Really the meeting has been adjourned.

John Fraser, IRN

Six months ago at the Brussels summit there seemed to be the impression that Britain was alone and the other eleven countries were against you, and you were finding it very difficult to get your reform message across. The atmosphere seemed to be very different this time—are the others listening? [end p1]

Prime Minister

Very much so. We have been arguing for years for effective financial discipline and effective control of surpluses and stopping new surpluses developing. The message is getting across, and for the first time we have got down to the details of how to control these matters, and the Community has come a very long way towards our view.

John Fraser, IRN

Nonetheless, the Community is not in very good shape—there isn't a budget for 1988, farm spending will continue to soar because of the failure of this summit, and you are going to have to come back in February and battle again. Surely there must be very serious disappointment that this two-day summit didn't get the deal that you were seeking.

Prime Minister

Yes, I think it was very ambitious to expect that we could deal with all of those problems. If you look and go through the book of details that we were having to discuss, first many people would be absolutely astounded that heads of government were taking all of these technicalities one after another and switching from subject to subject, and I think it was perhaps over-ambitious to expect that we could come to a conclusion on all of the things. [end p2] You see, each and every one of us have a particular interest in some things, and perhaps not so much in others—some want more money spent on one thing, some on another—and you cannot just solve it by saying we will spend more money on everything. That has been the tendency of the Community in the past because each of us is having to be tough on our national budgets, so we are saying the Community must be as well. There will not be much difficulty over the budget next year. We will go to what is called the “monthly 12th” , and I think before very long in the New Year we shall have got the decisions which we have been working towards today.

John Fraser, IRN

What about the British rebate? Is that still safe?

Prime Minister

It will be safe because that is the only basis on which we will reach agreement. It was suggested that they wanted to review it, and we said “Look, you don't really need to waste very much time on this because we could not possibly accept that” .

John Fraser, IRN

So do you think there is a good prospect now for success in February? [end p3]

Prime Minister

Yes, I think there is. First I think the fact that we have all been together for two days getting down to the ‘nitty-gritty’, so we each know what the other has discussed and each know their views, and we have got to do quite a lot of work between now and meeting again in February to make certain that we do reach a conclusion, but we know now where the strengths are and where the weak points are.

John Fraser, IRN

Could I ask you about your meeting with Mr Chirac, the French Prime Minister? There had been suggestions in Britain that you were very angry about the way in which the French handled the release of the two hostages from the Lebanon. Were those reports founded and are Anglo-French relations as bad as perhaps Fleet Street were suggesting?

Prime Minister

I had made no comment whatsoever on how the French dealt with their hostage position. That was for them to indicate, not for me. I had set out our own position on that, which as you know is very tough, and I had also publicly thanked the French which I do so again for their professionalism and their assiduous surveillance to see that weapons do not reach the IRA. It was their excellent work which apprehended the Eksund and which saved over £100 [sic] of armaments from getting into the hands of terrorists. That was superb. [end p4] Also we have a very good working relationship with France on all aspects of terrorism and I would like to make that clear. So no comments came from me, and Mr Chirac assured me that although some things had been said on the British media, that he had not in fact paid any money to the hostages, nor was he supplying any arms to Iran, and I fully accept his assurances.

John Fraser, IRN

What about your meeting with Mr Haughey, the Irish leader? Are you slightly more confident that the extradition agreement which the Irish are going ahead with is going to work and be effective, than you were before you saw him?

Prime Minister

I was, and remain worried about the extradition measures but Mr Haughey has reminded me that when he was dealing with them in the Dail he said that if they did not work satisfactorily—and he is just as anxious he tells me that people who should be extradited are extradited—if they did not work satisfactorily then the matter would be reviewed with a view to making them work satisfactorily.

John Fraser, IRN

So this will be kept under constant review by both sides?

Prime Minister

Very much. As I indicated I was perturbed about it and shall watch very carefully to see how it works. [end p5]

John Fraser, IRN

Finally Prime Minister, you put out a statement today on the death of David Barber, the baby who died after the heart operation. Could I ask you your own feelings on the matter? Because we have been dealing with great events here, it must have been very sad for you.

Prime Minister

I know just exactly how those parents feel. To lose a child is, I think, the worst thing that can befall you in life. Their hopes had been ‘buoyed-up’ because the operation was successful, and they must have gone through agony and great sorrow, and I do feel for them very much indeed.

John Fraser, IRN

Are you not worried though that this episode will help your political opponents to attack you and your policy over the Health Service, and what they allege are cuts?

Prime Minister

I think they would be most unwise if they do so. The perinatal morality—that is the number of babies, you know, who were dying around birth—is right down, down by a third, and there are lots of babies which, thanks to technical advances, survive now who didn't, and that is very good, but we do not believe we should make political capital of that.