John Major quotes:

  • It is time to return to core values, time to get back to basics, to self-discipline and respect for the law, to consideration for the others, to accepting responsibility for yourself and your family - and not shuffling it off on other people and the state.

  • The first requirement of politics is not intellect or stamina but patience. Politics is a very long run game and the tortoise will usually beat the hare.

  • Whatever efforts for peace President Gorbachev had in mind, they were pretty substantially undercut very swiftly by Saddam Hussein.

  • Life is full of surprises.

  • I inherited a sick economy and passed on a sound one. But one abiding regret for me is that, in between, I did not have the resources to put in place the educational and social changes about which I cared to much; I made only a beginning, and it was not enough.

  • Certainly we've seen the enormous changes across the whole of the Middle East. The democratic genie is out of the bottle.

  • I think it's extremely unlikely that the European Union will fracture with nations dropping off the edge.

  • The British don't runaway from terrorism. We have had 30-odd years of terrorism in our own country from the Irish Republican Army. We're used to it.

  • Well what would happen is that if Greece defaulted and couldn't pay its debts, all the Greek bonds that are held in other banking systems across Western Europe would suddenly have no value. You could as a knock-on effect create a banking crisis in Western Europe.

  • I don't think nations can stand aside for ethnic cleansing and genocide.

  • Fifty years on from now, Britain will still be the country of long shadows on cricket grounds, warm beer, invincible green suburbs, dog lovers and pools fillers and, as George Orwell said, 'Old maids bicycling to holy communion through the morning mist' and, if we get our way, Shakespeare will still be read even in school.

  • I have a huge admiration for the House of Lords, I have a huge admiration for the people who work in the House of Lords, they're great public servants and they do an absolutely tremendous job.

  • My father was 64 when I was conceived, my mother 38, which was late for babies in the 1940s.

  • The argument that someone is a bad man is an inadequate argument for war and certainly an inadequate and unacceptable argument for regime change.

  • When I was in office the fundraising was done by the party treasurers.

  • Only in Britain could it be thought a defect to be too clever by half. The probability is that too many people are too stupid by three-quarters.

  • The politician who never made a mistake never made a decision.

  • If we want to deliver opportunity for all, we need an economy that delivers jobs for the future.

  • I think the biggest mistake I made was this wretched ability to see both sides of an argument.

  • I thought I could do something different from any Conservative prime minister before me. But I couldn't.

  • If you look at things that really affect people's lives - sport, the arts, charities - they were always at the back of the queue for government money - health, social security, defence, pensions were all way ahead. And each of those areas - sports, the arts, the lottery - got relatively petty cash from the government.

  • The sight of allegedly sophisticated politicians parroting complete tripe trivialises and demeans government and it has to be stopped. It's played a significant part in public disillusionment with politics and has led to the absurd situation where more people vote for 'Strictly Come Dancing' than voted in the general election.

  • I think we can get respect for Parliament back providing governments and oppositions are frank.

  • Too many people looked to me in the eye and did not tell me the truth.

  • In the next ten years we will have to continue to make changes which will make the whole of this country a genuinely classless society.

  • You've had an extremely weak euro on the foreign exchange markets, you've had a very dubious policy being followed.

  • I have been reading the press more regularly than others over 50 years and it seems to me that there are things that have changed in the press that have changed its character.

  • Disunity costs votes.

  • A consensus politician is someone who does something that he doesn't believe is right because it keeps people quiet when he does it.

  • I mean if you have ever found a politician who says, 'No, no, I would do everything exactly as I did,' then you can tell when he is lying because his lips are moving.

  • In housing in the fifties in Britain and the sixties, we pulled down the terraces - destroyed whole communities and replaced them with tower blocks and we built walkways that became rat-runs for muggers. That was the fashionable opinion. But it was wrong.

  • If is a very big preposition.

  • Well British troops are superb in the field in terms of conflict.

  • I don't have a shred of regret about entering the exchange-rate mechanism.

  • I think the majority of the British people are still sanguine about the need for war.

  • Ronnie Barker will forever be remembered as one of the great comic actors.

  • I am walking over hot coals suspended over a deep pit at the bottom of which are a large number of vipers baring their fangs.

  • If you look back historically, admittedly a long time ago, there were three Afghan wars in which Britain didn't even come a good second. In more recent years the Russians were there with 120,000 men for ten years.

  • Recovery begins from the darkest moment.

  • Government gets things right' does not encourage sales. 'Government makes another blunder' does encourage sales, so there's a commercial imperative that pushes sensationalism.

  • I like the best of the British press. The best of the British press is very good.

  • Of course there are regrets. I shall regret always that I found my own authentic voice in politics. I was too conservative, too conventional. Too safe, too often. Too defensive. Too reactive. Later, too often on the back foot.

  • When the euro was born, it was born in the wrong economic circumstances.

  • You don't forget crises and neither does the Queen.

  • I'm very proud of what my parents achieved and what they stood for. They didn't have much, but in many ways they were richer than most.

  • When your back is against the wall, there is only one thing to do, and that is turn around and fight.

  • Let's turn British inventions into British industries, British factories and British jobs. Let them make pounds for us, not dollars marks or yen for others.

  • Society needs to condemn a little more and understand a little less.

  • A country of long shadows on county cricket grounds, warm beer, green suburbs, dog lovers, and old maids cycling to holy communion through the morning mist.

  • Well, I have concerns about the effectiveness of Europe to compete.

  • Neil Kinnock's speeches go on for so long because he has nothing to say and so he has no way of knowing when he's finished saying it.

  • Whether you agree with me or disagree with me; like me or loathe me, don't bind my hands when I am negotiating on behalf of the British nation.

  • If the answer is more politicians, you are asking the wrong question.

  • I want to see us build a country that is at ease with itself, a country that is confident and a country that is able and willing to build a better quality of life for all its citizens.

  • I am not running as Son of Margaret Thatcher. I have my own priorities and my own programmes.

  • My mother was the center of the family.

  • 'Government gets things right' does not encourage sales. 'Government makes another blunder' does encourage sales, so there's a commercial imperative that pushes sensationalism.

  • I will turn directly to the Asylum Bill later.

  • You're lucky to head a coalition government. I am a coalition government on my own.

  • There are more myths about Black Wednesday than the Greeks ever created.

  • You cannot think of Margaret without Denis. There comes a time when every Prime Minister needs someone to give him or her the unvarnished truth, and, in Denis, Margaret had just that.

  • I would rather go while I am being urged to stay, than to stay beyond the time when I should go.

  • When our backs are against the wall, we must turn around and march forward.

  • Political suicide can end a career.

  • Liberty is equally desirable to the good and to the bad, to the brave and to the dastardly.

  • I'm not about to write my memoirs. Not for a long time.

  • I want Britain to punch its weight in the European Community.

  • What happens when there is a conflict between the Scottish parliament, if it was established, and the Westminster parliament? Who is supreme?

  • The world has gone through tremendous change recently; both nationally andinternationally.

  • They seem to have moved from total opposition to total subservience.

  • I don't think it's the role of the prime minister to court the press.

  • Tentacles of terrorism spread everywhere

  • Well, I think there's a distinction between sexing-up the intelligence and sexing-up the presentation of the intelligence.

  • Our country is the richer for her life and the poorer at her death.

  • UN goodwill may be a bottomless pit but it's by no means limitless.

  • Some people eat eggs, I wear them.

  • I can't legislate to change human nature.

  • Give the Germans five deutschmarks and they will save it. But give the British £5 and they will borrow £25 and spend it.