Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1988 Nov 9 We
Margaret Thatcher

Press Conference in Downing Street (George Bush elected US President)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: Outside No.10 Downing Street
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Editorial comments: 0845-0900. MT took a few questions after her initial statement.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1366

Prime Minister

Good morning!

I wanted to offer my warmest congratulations to Vice-President Bush—now President-elect Bush—on a very clear, decisive result; on a very positive campaign which he ran; and to offer our staunch support to this leadership of the Western World which the United States inevitably has.

We have had a special relationship for many years. I hope that will continue. I believe the same positive policies will continue, so I think that we can look forward to the same close relationship that we have had in the past.

I also spoke to George Bush in the early hours of this morning—well not that early, about ten past six this morning—but I wanted to be among the first to congratulate him. I have known him quite a long time and was able to get him and congratulate him on the result and campaign. He is looking forward to our meeting—we are meeting next week, when I go across to Washington—so am I. [end p1]

Question

Will you be seeing President Reagan as well next week?

Prime Minister

Oh indeed yes! President Reagan asked me over to Washington after the election. I was delighted to accept that invitation because among other things, I want to go and thank him for what he has done for the whole of the Western World during his eight years of Presidency and, of course, also, I knew that the election would be over by that time and it will enable me to see the new President.

Question

You got on very well with President Reagan.

Prime Minister

Hold on! One at a time!

Question

Are you optimistic, Prime Minister, about the future of Anglo-American relations? [end p2]

Prime Minister

Yes. As I have indicated always in my speeches, we are staunch allies of the United States.

It was particularly easy during President Reagan 's time, because I knew him before he was President—he knew me before I was Prime Minister—and we knew one another because we held similar views and similar policies. That too, is true of George Bush. He has been part of the American success under President Reagan.

Now, shall we get someone else to ask a question! John, yes?

John Simpson (BBC)

Could I ask you, Prime Minister: it must have been quite a relief for you that Mr. Dukakis was not elected, because you would have had more foreign policy difficulties and differences with him, wouldn't you? [end p3]

Prime Minister

Well, the American people, as George Bush says, have spoken. They have made their decision.

I heard Mr. Dukakis 's speech when he congratulated George Bush. I thought it was a very generous and graceful speech and one which, with the greatest magnanimity, indicated that the important thing is that after a Presidential Election everyone supports the President, and I thought it was a quietly impressive speech.

John Simpson (BBC)

You are not likely to have too many foreign policy difficulties or differences with Mr. Bush presumably?

Prime Minister

I would think that is a correct conclusion. I think we will think similarly on most things.

John Simpson (BBC)

Will he be easier to handle than President Reagan?

Prime Minister

You do not handle United States Presidents—you offer them your support for policies in which you both believe. [end p4]

Question

You got on very well with President Reagan. Do you think that George Bush can actually quite replace him?

There were some who were saying to me that President Reagan really won this election as well.

Prime Minister

Each person has their own style, their own personality.

I thought George Bush 's style and personality came out very well in that very very long election campaign when, although we saw on television the sharper parts of the speeches, there were many many policy statements setting out his beliefs and the way in which he wanted to go for the future.

We each have our own style. I have known George Bush 's style for a very long time and we get on very well together.

Question

What will be the advantages of the Bush presidency for Britain? [end p5]

Prime Minister

The main advantages are that the same positive policies of the last eight years, which are very similar to our own, will continue into the future.

I think that that gives Europe enormous confidence in continuity and I think that it gives much of the rest of the world the knowledge that the new President will already be familiar with their problems, has been to many of their countries, knows many of them, and so therefore we shall get perhaps a smoother changeover than we have had for many years.

After all, it is an enormous number of years since a Vice-President has won the Presidency and so it is a very very long time since we have had the degree of continuity of policy that we have had now and that is very important just really, if I might put it this way, as freedom and democracy is gaining the world over.

Question

Do you think he will tackle the deficit problem?

Prime Minister

I think that the deficit problem will be tackled. How it will be tackled one does not quite know because we have a Republican President but there will be very very strong Democratic voices in Congress and as you know, they have an enormous say, particularly on expenditure. [end p6]

Question

Prime Minister, when you meet President-elect Bush next week, you will be one of the first senior Western leaders to see him.

As that senior Western leader, what advice are you going to offer him as the incoming President?

Prime Minister

I am not going to offer him advice as the incoming President. We shall talk over the problems that the whole world faces and we shall talk them over just as we have talked them over many times in the past, because whenever I go to the United States, as well as seeing President Reagan I have always seen Vice-President Bush, so it really will be just continuing the conversations, the discussions, the policy talks that we had.

Question

But, of course, it will be a whole different ball game this time?

Prime Minister

Yes, of course. I will be seeing him as the future President, but the conversations will be very similar on points of policy and in tone.

Anything else? Goodness me! Satisfied press and television! Thank you for coming out! Did I miss someone? Yes? Could you come a little bit closer? [end p7]

Question

There were rumours in the United States that you were not very happy with Dan Quayle saying that he knew you very well.

How do you think you will be dealing with Dan Quayle?

Prime Minister

Mr. Quayle has been to No. 10 with some of the Senators who quite frequently come to see me when they are in London, so I have met him at No. 10.

He will be Vice-President of the United States and I shall get on with him as Vice-President of the United States—of course!

All right! Thank you for coming out! I hope you were not up all night, were you? Oh, you are tired too! But it was quite an interesting night.

(Inaudible Question)

Prime Minister

Until it was absolutely in the bag. We have CNN cable into here, so I was able to watch directly and then we listened to BBC until after we had heard all the speeches, so it was about quarter past five when one had just a little rest. A little bit shorter than usual!

Thank you for coming!