Thatcher bowls Major a googly

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The Independent Online
BARONESS THATCHER tried last night to avert a rift with John Major after apparently launching an attack on the Prime Minister's high-powered business mission to South Africa.

As Mr Major was delivering an upbeat message of hope for the South African economy to businessmen in Johannesburg, his predecessor seemed to be attacking it in Bombay. Lady Thatcher told Bombay businessmen that international businesses were unlikely to invest in South Africa because of fears of violence and unrest.

Meanwhile, Mr Major was saying Britain was reinforcing its business drive, with the Royal Yacht visiting Cape Town next March and the Queen hosting British promotional events. There would be other business events in Durban in June and a trade fair in Johannesburg in September, he said.

Mr Major had sought to avoid a slanging match but was clearly irritated. Lady Thatcher's remarks cast the only shadow on his trip and he brusquely said they did not accord with what he had seen.

A few hours later Lady Thatcher issued a clarifying statement that she 'fully supports the new democratic government of South Africa and believes that the country will attract the inward investment it so much needs'.

Mr Major had also announced that 30 British firms were going to take businessmen from Soweto into their own companies to gain experience in management and key sectors of the economy such as electronics and construction. 'I want to share with you my conviction that long-term political stability in South Africa will be rewarded with long-term growth and prosperity,' he told the South African chamber of business.

Howard Davies, the director- general of the CBI, has been urging South African ministers to end exchange controls and reform trade tariffs. He said there were signs that business confidence in South Africa was rising.

Major takes a wicket, page 13

Hot air of change, page 17

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