The Rt. Hon. Sir John Major KG CH

Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 1990-1997

1993Prime Minister (1990-1997)

Mr Major’s Comments on Maastricht – 19 February 1993

Below is the text of Mr Major’s comments on Maastricht, made in London on 19th February 1993.

[The Prime Minister was asked about Maastricht and the Conservative MPs who weren’t backing the Government’s policy]


I can’t know what is in other people’s minds as to motives. I do know that if we are to be genuinely concerned about our future prospects, about the growth of the British economy, about jobs in the British economy and about everything that goes with that, we need to have an influential position in Europe. If we were to become isolated outside the European Community or isolated inside the European Community but without influence, it would do immense damage to our business, our commerce, our prospects for growth and our prospects for jobs.
Maastricht to some may seem an obtuse treaty but what marches alongside that particular Bill is our influence in the European Community, our position to help determine the regulations of the European Community that affect our industry and our commerce and our prospects and we simply cannot turn our back on that if we are genuinely concerned about having the right economic structure for growth in this country. It isn’t just a question of one Bill; it is a much bigger question than that.

There are some people who wish we were not in the European Community and honestly say so – I think they are wrong. There are other people who say: “well of course, we would like to be in the European Community of a large number of nations but we would like everything to be as we would wish and not as they would wish!” they are unrealistic.

There are other people in the debate who really do not face reality at all and it is necessary to face the reality of what is right for our economy in the medium- and the long-term. Could it possibly be right for us to lose influence and let them set regulations that would affect our country, our industry, our commerce without us having allies in Europe that would enable us to frame those regulations in a way that is relevant to us? If we isolate ourselves, we may not be able to do that so what they are saying is leave the Community. What impact do they think that would have on our living standards in this country and our political, industrial and commercial influence? In two or three years time, people would be saying, when the impact of losing that influence in Europe or leaving Europe had struck home: “what on earth were people doing that they didn’t look at the effect that all this would have on our living standards?”