John Major was chosen prime minister of Britain yesterday because he is young, a meritocrat, Margaret Thatcher's choice and acceptable to the British electorate as polled.
The move from 11 Downing Street, where the chancellor of the exchequer lives, to Number 10, next door where the prime minister resides, is not wrenching. This is a changeover the rapidity of which never ceases to amaze Americans. But, equally, it is smooth.
The United States has lost a great friend in Margaret Thatcher, deposed by her colleagues as bound to lose the next election, for a bland man of whom most Americans know nothing. There will be policy changes -- this was agreed by Mr. Major and his two opponents, Michael Heseltine and Douglas Hurd. Britain will take a more positive attitude toward the economic consolidation of Europe and seek more say in how that is achieved. The painful substitution of a poll tax for property taxes in local government will be reviewed. Beyond that, a Major government will be continuity, not change, from the Thatcher regime, especially in the Persian Gulf.