Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1988 Sep 23 Fr
Margaret Thatcher

Radio Interview for IRN (visiting Madrid)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: Radio Interview
Venue: Moncloa Palace, Madrid
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: Peter Spencer, IRN
Editorial comments: Between 1400 and 1425 MT gave interviews to British broadcasters.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 803
Themes: Autobiographical comments, Trade, Economic, monetary & political union, Foreign policy (Western Europe - non-EU), Terrorism

Peter Spencer, IRN

How concerned are you that the impact over the sovereignty of Gibraltar will negate the importance of this visit?

Prime Minister

No, I do not think so because in fact we are working very closely together, Britain and Spain. Trade is improving, both our economies are growing, the fastest in Europe, we both have a slight problem of over-heating and in fact trying to hold inflations down. There are many many similarities and you know Spain is coming up very fast since she joined the Community. There are immense prospects here and our businessmen are taking advantage of them.

So the amount of cooperation and friendship is so great that one particular thing like Gibraltar could not in any way negate it.

Peter Spencer, IRN

For all that, it is a very emotive issue for the Spanish. Do you not think you are perhaps under-estimating the problem? [end p1]

Prime Minister

Let me also say this. It is a very emotive issue for the people of Gibraltar and not only emotive, it is a thing which would alter the future of each and every one of them if the status of Gibraltar was changed. As you know, we are pledged not to change that status without their consent.

It is emotive also for the people of Britain because we remember in two World Wars that Gibraltar stood by us in the defence of freedom and without that defence of freedom Europe would not enjoy the freedom which it now does. So it is emotive for everyone but it is more than emotive for the people of Gibraltar, it is their future.

Peter Spencer, IRN

So what is the way forward?

Prime Minister

Only by cooperation, only by persuasion, only by retaining our Treaty, the Treaty of Utrecht, that if Gibraltar ceased to be British it would have to revert to Spain and by maintaining, as a British Parliament would always do, its pledge to the people of Gibraltar.

You would not expect the British Parliament to resile from a pledge which it had honourably given. We shall not do so. [end p2]

Peter Spencer, IRN

The visit was billed as the opening of a new era in Anglo-Spanish relations, how will that benefit Britain?

Prime Minister

It benefits us both because the amount of trade that is taking place now is much greater than it was. Businessmen are investing in Spain, starting up joint ventures in Spain, that gives us overseas investment and an income back for Britain. It gives us the possibility of getting more of our goods into Spain. Trade is going up, investment is going up and we are cooperating together in a quite new way in the European Economic Community.

Peter Spencer, IRN

Presumably also it will improve cooperation in the fight against drugs and drug dealing and terrorism?

Prime Minister

The amount of cooperation we are having with Spain in these spheres is enormous. Excellent cooperation in fighting drugs and fighting crime and terrorism, all of those things are absolutely against democracy and we must do everything we can to beat them.

Peter Spencer, IRN

Meanwhile, earlier in the week you were crusading against the idea of a European super-state. Other European leaders barely took notice, but didn't you win the argument? [end p3]

Prime Minister

Yes.

Peter Spencer, IRN

Can you perhaps elaborate on that a little?

Prime Minister

Yes. Most of us are answerable to our national Parliaments and I really cannot think of people going back to their national Parliaments or people and saying: “Look, we have handed over so many powers to Europe that really we are no longer effective as a state and as a country.”

Most people rightly feel the sense of national pride. They can rightly identify with their country and what I am doing to many many people is saying: “Look stop talking in a way as if the only thing that ever mattered was that we are all European” . The history of Europe is the history of nations. It is quite different from the history of America that people all went to America to get rid of some of the constraints of Europe and you cannot ignore a nation's history, you cannot ignore its pride, its different customs, its traditions. Do not ignore them, take them and use them positively and willingly to cooperate as a family of nations.

That is much more positive than some of the theoretical stuff we have been hearing. [end p4]

Peter Spencer, IRN

Finally, at one point you were compared with General de Gaulle, it was not meant as a compliment but because he was a formidable figure, did you see it as one?

Prime Minister

I certainly did not see it as an insult but there are certain very obvious differences between us.