Below is the text of Mr Major’s comments on the Gulf, made in an interview on a VC10 to the Gulf on 6th January 1991.
[Mr Major was asked why he was going to the Gulf].
There are several reasons why I particularly want to go.
Firstly, I want, of course, to discuss with all our Arab allies how they see the present events and what may happen of course after this matter is over for there will be a great deal to be done then.
I want to see our own troops and our own British personnel who are there; I want to satisfy myself that they have the equipment that they need, that they are in good heart and good morale and I want to take the opportunity of explaining to them why they are there and how important is is we think that they are there to put right the dreadful wrong that thus far has been done to Kuwait.
[Mr Major was asked what he thought would happen in the following weeks].
I do not think anyone can be certain what is going to happen. Clearly, we would like this matter to be resolved without a conflict. We would like Saddam Hussein to withdraw from Kuwait and go back to Iraq. We have made it absolutely clear to him that if he does that, he will not be attacked within Iraq – that is absolutely clear and I hope he fully understands that – but whether or not there is a conflict is now up to him. We hope there will not be, but if he does not withdraw, then I fear there will be.
[Mr Major was asked that since the UN deadline was approaching, would war be inevitable].
I think it was always likely that it would be at the very end of this time-scale before Saddam Hussein withdraws if indeed he does, so I certainly do not give up hope of him withdrawing and I hope very much he will see reason and will do so.
He cannot win a conflict; that must be clear to him. The sheer scale of the Allied forces there and the Allied air power means that he cannot win, that must be clear to him and I hope he will withdraw. He still has some time to do so. I hope he will make use of that time and withdraw speedily.
[Mr Major was asked if there would be a problem about whether the Allied troops would ready for war].
No. I am informed that the Allies are very well prepared for war if that should prove to be necessary; I will have the opportunity of seeing that for myself over the next few days.