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Prime Minister Theresa May addresses the Conservative and Unionist Party convention in Manchester, UK on October 4, 2017 where she outlined the progress of her party and the government over the past 16-months and paints a picture of what she wants Britain to look like in the coming years. Although obviously suffering from the ‘flu, she dauntlessly carried on and delivered her remarks in full.
Although much is being made of a stunt played on her by a prankster, and that some of the set behind her fell down, and through much coughing by PM May, the words and context of May’s speech are profound.
[Which is why, for the first time, LettertoBritain won’t be posting the usual accompanying video — but provide the transcript only to keep the focus on the text of the speech — which is, by far, of more importance than falling props and pranksters]
“A little over forty years ago in a small village in Oxfordshire, I signed up to be a member of the Conservative Party.
I did it because it was the party that had the ideas to build a better Britain. It understood the hard work and discipline necessary to see them through.
And it had at its heart a simple promise that spoke to me, my values and my aspirations: that each new generation in our country should be able to build a better future. That each generation should live the British Dream.
And that dream is what I believe in.
But what the General Election earlier this year showed is that, forty years later, for too many people in our country that dream feels distant, our party’s ability to deliver it is in question, and the British Dream that has inspired generations of Britons feels increasingly out of reach.
Now I called that election. And I know that all of you in this hall – your friends and your families – worked day and night to secure the right result.
Because of your hard work we got 2.3 million more votes and achieved our highest vote share in 34 years. That simply would not have been possible without the long days and late nights, the phone calls, the leaflet drops. The weekends and evenings spent knocking on doors.
So for everything that you do, let me say – thank you.
But we did not get the victory we wanted because our national campaign fell short.
It was too scripted. Too presidential. And it allowed the Labour Party to paint us as the voice of continuity, when the public wanted to hear a message of change.
I hold my hands up for that. I take responsibility. I led the campaign.
And I am sorry.
THE BRITISH DREAM
But the choice before us now is clear:
Do we give up, spend our time looking back? Or do we do our duty, look to the future and give the country the government it needs?
This country will judge us harshly if we get this decision wrong.
Because all that should ever drive us is the duty we have to Britain and the historic mission of this party – this Conservative Party – to renew the British Dream in each new generation.
That dream that says each generation should do better than the one before it. Each era should be better than the last.
The dream that, for decades, has inspired people from around the world to come to Britain. To make their home in Britain. To build their lives in Britain.
The dream that means the son of a bus driver from Pakistan serves in a Conservative Cabinet alongside the son of a single mother from a council estate in South-West London.
And in a way, that dream is my story too.
I know that people think I’m not very emotional. I’m not the kind of person who wears their heart on their sleeve. And I don’t mind being called things like the Ice Maiden – though perhaps George Osborne took the analogy a little far. But let me tell you something.
My grandmother was a domestic servant, who worked as a lady’s maid below stairs. She worked hard and made sacrifices, because she believed in a better future for her family. And that servant – that lady’s maid – among her grandchildren boasts three professors and a prime minister.
That is why the British Dream inspires me. Why that dream of progress between the generations spurs me on. And it is why today at this conference, this Conservative Party must pledge to renew the British Dream in this country once again.
THE GOOD A CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT CAN DO
To renew that dream is my purpose in politics. My reason for being. The thing that drives me on.
And it has never wavered through good times and hard times. My belief that this Conservative government can renew it has always remained strong.
For whenever we are tested as a nation, this party steps up to the plate. Seven years ago, our challenge was to repair the damage of Labour’s great recession – and we did it. The deficit is down. Spending is under control. And our economy is growing again.
But we didn’t limit ourselves to that ambition. We have achieved so much more.
An income tax cut for over 30 million people.
Four million taken out of paying it at all.
Employment up to a record high.
Unemployment down to a historic low.
Income inequality at its lowest for thirty years.
More women in work than ever before.
Over 11,000 more doctors in our NHS.
Over 11,000 more nurses on our hospital wards.
Free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds doubled.
1.8 million more children in good or outstanding schools.
3 million more apprenticeships.
Crime down by more than a third.
More young people from disadvantaged backgrounds going to university than at any time in the history of our country.
Britain leading the world in tackling climate change, eradicating global poverty, and countering terrorism wherever it rears its head.
Same sex marriage on the statute book, so that two people who love each other can get married, no matter what their gender.
And a National Living Wage – giving a pay rise to the lowest earners – introduced not by the Labour Party, but by us, the Conservative Party.
So let us never allow the Left to pretend they have a monopoly on compassion.
This is the good a Conservative Government can do – and we should never let anyone forget it.
WHAT I’M IN THIS FOR: TACKLING INJUSTICE
But it’s easy when you’ve been in government for a while to fall into the trap of defending your record, and standing for the status quo.
Yes, we’re proud of the progress we have made, but the world doesn’t stand still.
Change, as Disraeli taught us, is constant and inevitable. And we must bend it to our will. That means staking out an agenda for Britain – and uniting behind it too. And the agenda that I laid out on day one as prime minister still holds. It burns inside me just the same.
Because at its core, it’s about sweeping away injustice – the barriers that mean for some the British Dream is increasingly out of reach.
About saying what matters is not where you are from or who your parents are. The colour of your skin. Whether you’re a man or a woman, rich or poor. From the inner city or an affluent suburb.
How far you go in life should depend on you and your hard work.
That is why I have always taken on vested interests when they are working against the interests of the people. Called out those who abuse their positions of power and given a voice to those who have been ignored or silenced for too long.
And when people ask me why I put myself through it – the long hours, the pressure, the criticism and insults that inevitably go with the job – I tell them this: I do it to root out injustice and to give everyone in our country a voice.
That’s why when I reflect on my time in politics, the things that make me proud are not the positions I have held, the world leaders I have met, the great global gatherings to which I have been, but knowing that I made a difference. That I helped those who couldn’t be heard.
Like the families of the 96 men, women and children who tragically lost their lives at Hillsborough. For years they saw people in authority closing ranks and acting against them, but now they are on the way to seeing justice served.
That’s what I’m in this for.
Like the victims and survivors of Child Sexual Abuse, ignored for years by people in positions of power, now on the long road to the truth.
That’s what I’m in this for.
Like Alexander Paul, a young man who came to this conference three years ago to tell his story. The story of a young black boy growing up in modern Britain who without causing any trouble – without doing anything wrong – found himself being stopped and searched by people in authority time and time and time again.
Alexander spoke so eloquently about his experience and how he came to mistrust those in positions of power as a result. So inspired by his example, we took action. We shook up the system, and the number of black people being stopped and searched has fallen by over two thirds. I am sad to have to tell you that last year, Alexander – who inspired us all with his passion – was diagnosed with brain cancer. And in June of this year he tragically passed away. He was just 21. Let us today remember the courage he showed in coming to our conference to speak out against injustice, take pride that we gave him a platform – and inspired by his example, redouble our efforts to give a voice to the voiceless at every opportunity.
That’s what I’m in this for.
And that same commitment is the reason why one of my first acts as Prime Minister was to establish the ground-breaking racial disparity audit – investigating how a person’s race affects their treatment by public services, so that we can take action and respond.
We already know, for example, that members of Black and Minority Ethnic communities have a higher risk of illnesses such as high blood pressure that may lead to the need for an organ transplant.
But our ability to help people who need transplants is limited by the number of organ donors that come forward. That is why last year 500 people died because a suitable organ was not available. And there are 6,500 on the transplant list today. So to address this challenge that affects all communities in our country, we will change that system. Shifting the balance of presumption in favour of organ donation. Working on behalf of the most vulnerable.
That’s what I’m in this for.
It’s why after seeing the unimaginable tragedy unfold at Grenfell Tower, I was determined that we should get to the truth.
Because Grenfell should never have happened – and should never be allowed to happen again.
So we must learn the lessons: understanding not just what went wrong but why the voice of the people of Grenfell had been ignored over so many years. That’s what the public inquiry will do. And where any individual or organisation is found to have acted negligently, justice must be done.
That’s what I’m in this for.
And because in this – as in other disasters before it – bereaved and grieving families do not get the support they need, we will introduce an independent public advocate for major disasters.
An advocate to act on behalf of bereaved families to support them at public inquests and inquiries. The strong independent voice that victims need.
That’s what I’m in this for.
It’s why tackling the injustice and stigma associated with mental health is a particular priority for me. So we are building on our record of giving mental and physical health parity in law by investing more in mental health than ever before. But there is widespread concern that the existing Mental Health legislation passed more three decades ago is leading to shortfalls in services and is open to misuse. Detention rates under the Mental Health Act are too high. And it is people from black and minority ethnic populations who are affected the most. So today I can announce that I have asked Professor Sir Simon Wessely to undertake an independent review of the Mental Health Act, so that we can tackle the longstanding injustices of discrimination in our mental health system once and for all.
That’s what I’m in this for.
This is the Conservatism I believe in. A Conservatism of fairness and justice and opportunity for all. A Conservatism that keeps the British Dream alive for a new generation.
That’s what I’m in this for.
That’s what we must all be in this for.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
And we must come together to fight for this mainstream Conservative agenda. To win the battle of ideas in a new generation all over again. For those ideas are being tested. And at stake are the very things we value.
Our precious union of nations – four nations that are stronger as one – threatened by those with their narrow, nationalist agendas that seek to drive us apart.
The strength of our society, in which we understand the obligations and responsibilities we have to one another, under attack from militant forces who preach animosity and hate. The free-market economy – for so long the basis of our prosperity and security. An idea that has lifted millions around the world out of poverty – called into question by those who would imperil our future by adopting the failed experiments of the past.
That idea of free and open markets, operating under the right rules and regulations, is precious to us.
It’s the means by which we generate our prosperity as a nation, and improve the living standards of all our people.
It has helped to cement Britain’s influence as a force for good in the world.
It has underpinned the rules-based international system that helped rebuild post-war Europe and the world beyond.
It has ushered in the fall of the Berlin Wall; the end of communism, and the dark days of the Iron Curtain; securing the advance of freedom across Europe and across the world.
It has inspired 70 years of prosperity, raising living standards for hundreds of millions of people right across the globe.
So don’t try and tell me that free markets are no longer fit for purpose. That somehow they’re holding people back.
Don’t try and tell me that the innovations they have encouraged – the advances they have brought – the mobile phone, the internet, pioneering medical treatments, the ability to travel freely across the world – are worth nothing.
The free market – and the values of freedom, equality, rights, responsibilities, and the rule of law that lie at its heart – remains the greatest agent of collective human progress ever created.
So let us win this argument for a new generation and defend free and open markets with all our might.
A CHOICE OF FUTURES FOR BRITAIN
Because there has rarely been a time when the choice of futures for Britain is so stark. The difference between the parties so clear.
And it’s the Conservative Party that has a vision of an open, global, self-confident Britain, while our opponents flirt with a foreign policy of neutrality and prepare for a run on the pound.
Some people say we’ve spent too much time talking about Jeremy Corbyn’s past.
So let’s talk about his present instead.
This is a politician who wants to pile on taxes to business just when we need them to invest in our country the most. This is a politician who wants to borrow hundreds of billions of pounds to nationalise industries without the slightest idea of how much it will cost or how he will ever pay it back.
This is a politician who wants to strip us of our nuclear deterrent, without being honest with voters about his plans.
This is a politician who lets anti-Semitism, misogyny and hatred run free, while he doesn’t do a thing to stop it.
This is a politician who thinks we should take the economics of Venezuela as our role-model.
No… Jeremy Corbyn.
By contrast, when I look around the cabinet table, I have confidence that we have a team full of talent, drive and compassion. A team that is determined that this party – this great Conservative Party – will tackle the challenges of the future together.
A team that is determined we will always do our duty by our country.
THE BEST BREXIT DEAL
And our first and most important duty is to get Brexit right. The people have decided. We have taken their instruction.
Britain is leaving the European Union in March 2019.
I know some find the negotiations frustrating.
But if we approach them in the right spirit – in a spirit of cooperation and friendship, with our sights set firmly on the future – I am confident we will find a deal that works for Britain and Europe too. And let’s be clear about the agreement we seek.
It’s the agreement I set out earlier this year at Lancaster House and again in my speech in Florence ten days ago.
It’s a new deep and special partnership between a strong, successful European Union and a sovereign United Kingdom. A partnership that allows us to continue to trade and cooperate with each other, because we see shared challenges and opportunities ahead. But a partnership that ensures the United Kingdom is a sovereign nation once again. A country in which the British people are firmly in control.
I believe it is profoundly in all our interests for the negotiations to succeed. But I know that are some are worried whether we are prepared in the event that they do not. It is our responsibility as a government to prepare for every eventuality. And let me reassure everyone in this hall – that is exactly what we are doing.
So a deep and special partnership is our ambition and our offer. And I look forward to that offer receiving a positive response.
And let me say one more thing – because it cannot be said often enough.
If you are a citizen of the EU who has made their life in this country, I know you will feel unsettled and nervous. But let me be clear that we value the contribution you make to the life of our country. You are welcome here.
And I urge the negotiating teams to reach agreement on this quickly because we want you to stay.
A STRONG ECONOMY AND WORLD-CLASS PUBLIC SERVICES
Whatever the outcome of our negotiations, Britain’s long-term future is bright. The British Dream is still within reach.
For as we look to that future, we do so with the fundamentals of our country strong.
Ten years after Northern Rock, our economy is back on track. The deficit is back to pre-crisis levels, we are firmly on course to get our national debt falling and business investment is growing.
The work to get there hasn’t been easy. It’s meant big decisions and huge sacrifices. I know the public sector has had to carry a heavy burden. The private sector has played its part too.
But with government, businesses and the public sector working together, we have bounced back – creating record numbers of jobs, and getting more people into work than ever before.
So while we will never hesitate to act where businesses aren’t operating as they should, let this party celebrate the wealth creators, the risk takers, the innovators and entrepreneurs – the businesses large and small – who generate jobs and prosperity for our country, and make British business the envy of the world.
Because we understand that it is the wealth creators whose taxes fuel our public services. It is their success that funds the things we want to do.
And the difference between us and Labour is that we understand that to deliver the things we want, private enterprise is crucial. That you can’t get something for nothing. Prosperity is key.
And when politicians offer the earth but have no means of delivering their promises, disillusionment with politics only grows.
So over the years ahead this government will adopt a balanced approach to the economy – dealing with our debts, keeping taxes low, but investing in our priorities too.
Things like our vital public services, our schools, our police, housing, and our great national achievement, our NHS.
Let us not forget that it is this party that has invested in the National Health Service and upheld its founding principles through more years in government than any other.
For we understand that the NHS doesn’t just bring us into this world, make us well if we fall ill, and nurse and care for our families through their final hours. It doesn’t just bear witness to moments of joy and to times of intense sorrow.
It is the very essence of solidarity in our United Kingdom. An institution we value. A symbol of our commitment to each other, between young and old, those who have and those who do not, the healthy and the sick.
Like most people in this hall, it has been there for me when I have needed it. I have early childhood memories of visiting my family GP. More recently, it was the NHS that diagnosed my type 1 diabetes and taught me how to manage it so I could get on with my life.
And in recent months, I have seen it at its most brilliant – in the world-class response shown by the doctors, nurses and paramedics when terrorists struck London and Manchester.
To them all – and indeed to the public servants everywhere who so often go unsung – let me say this: for your service, your hard work and for your dedication – thank you.
So I rely on the NHS. I believe in the NHS.
And because we believe in ensuring that a world class NHS will be there for generations to come, we will increase funding per head for every year of this parliament, we will oversee the biggest expansion in training for doctors and nurses, and we will always support the service to deliver safe, high quality care for all – free at the point of use.
That’s what our balanced approach to the economy will help us to do.
THE NEXT ECONOMIC CHALLENGE
With our economic foundation strong – and economic confidence restored – the time has come to focus on Britain’s next big economic challenge: to foster growth that works for everyone, right across our country.
That means keeping taxes low, spreading prosperity to all corners of this United Kingdom, and getting out into the world to trade, export and help our economy grow.
So as the world’s leading advocate for free markets and free trade, we will pursue new free trade agreements with countries around the world. As we roll out our modern industrial strategy, we will attract and invest in new high-paid, high-skilled jobs – spreading prosperity and opportunity to every part of this country. Tackling our economy’s weaknesses like low levels of productivity, backing our nation’s strengths, and bringing investment, jobs and opportunities to communities that feel they have been forgotten for far too long.
We will continue to reform education and skills training so that people growing up in Britain today are ready and able to seize the opportunities ahead.
Starting in our schools – those great drivers of social mobility – where our record is strong and our legacy is proud. Because our reforms are working. And after years of stagnation under the last Labour Government, we are turning things around. But there is more to do. Our reform programme goes on. Because it’s simply not good enough that if you live here in the North, you have less chance of attending a good school than someone living in the South.
So we will extend the Free Schools programme for a new generation of young people – building 100 new Free Schools in every year of this Parliament. Not because our ideology says so… but because Free Schools work. And it’s the right thing to do.
And we need to bring that same energy to skills training too. Preparing our young people for the world of the future. Setting them up to succeed. Taking skills seriously with new T-levels for post-16 education, a new generation of Technology Institutes in every major city in England – providing the skills local employers need, and more technical training for 16-19 year olds. A first-class technical education system for the first time in the history of Britain. Keeping the British Dream alive.
A GLOBAL BRITAIN
That’s how we will prepare Britain for an open, global future. I know that some young people worry that Brexit means we’re turning our back on the world. That Britain will no longer be open, but closed. But we reject both the isolationism of the hard-left and those who would have us turn inward, and we choose a global Britain instead.
As Asia booms and the world looks to the East, we will reach beyond the borders of Europe to become a trusted friend to nations all around the world.
We will meet our commitments to international security, with the finest armed forces and intelligence services anywhere on the planet.
We will build an outward looking Britain that cooperates with other nations to tackle the great challenges of our time like mass migration, modern slavery and climate change.
And we will provide a moral lead in the world, and set an example for others.
Meeting our commitments on security: committing fully to the NATO alliance and spending 2% of our GDP on defence.
Remaining firmly committed to renewing our independent nuclear deterrent, to help uphold the security of the world. And leading the world in cracking down on modern slavery – because if you are buying and selling another human being, you are undermining all that is right. The very basis of our humanity.
And we must bring this outrage to an end.
And under this government, we will continue to meet the international aid target, spending 0.7% of our GNI on international development.
That’s not just because it’s good for Britain, but because it is the right thing to do.
Today, UK Aid is being used to bring food to starving children in conflict zones like Syria and Iraq. UK Aid is being used to bring water to drought stricken parts of Africa. UK Aid is helping to educate women and girls in parts of Asia where that most basic of human rights has been denied to them for so long.
Yes, charity may begin at home, but our compassion is not limited to those who carry the same passport. We should be proud that under a Conservative Government, this country is one of the few that is meeting its duty to some of the poorest people in our world.
And as Prime Minister, I will ensure that’s something Britain always continues to do.
But let me also be clear: it is absurd that international organisations say we can’t use the money to help all those that have been hit by the recent Hurricanes in the British Overseas Territories.
Many people on those islands have been left with nothing. And if we must change the rules on international aid in order to recognise the particular needs of these communities when disaster strikes, then that’s what we will do.
This then is the Britain we choose.
Not a Britain that retreats behind its borders, but a global Britain that stands tall in the world.
A beacon of hope and an example to others. A modern, compassionate Britain that we can all be proud to call home.
RENEWING THE BRITISH DREAM
And we must renew the British Dream at home through a determined programme of economic and social reform. A programme that champions our belief in free markets by being prepared to reform them when they don’t work. That ensures our economy and society work for everyone in every part of this country, not just the privileged few.
Because for too many, the British Dream feels increasingly out of reach.
The effects of the financial crisis – nearly a decade of low growth, stagnating wages and pay restraint – linger.
The boom in the housing market means that while some have done very well, for many the chance of getting onto the housing ladder has become a distant dream.
And it’s that fact, perhaps more than any other, that means for too many the British Dream is increasingly out of reach.
Just over a decade ago, 59% of 25-34 year olds owned their own home. Today it is just 38%.
It has always been a great sadness for me and Philip that we were never blessed with children. It seems some things in life are just never meant to be.
But I believe in the dream that life should be better for the next generation as much as any mother. Any father. Any grandparent.
The only difference is that I have the privileged position of being able to do more than most to bring that dream to life.
So I will dedicate my premiership to fixing this problem – to restoring hope. To renewing the British Dream for a new generation of people.
And that means fixing our broken housing market.
For 30 or 40 years we simply haven’t built enough homes. As a result, prices have risen so much that the average home now costs almost 8 times average earnings. And that’s been a disaster for young people in particular.
We have begun to put this right. The number of new homes being delivered each year has increased significantly since 2010.
Our Housing White Paper set out plans to increase it further, ensuring councils release more land for housing, and giving them new powers to ensure that developers actually build homes once they’re given planning permission to do so.
And because it will take time for greater housebuilding to translate into more affordable house prices, we have introduced schemes like Help to Buy to support people who are struggling right now.
But the election result showed us that this is not nearly enough. We’ve listened and we’ve learned.
So this week, the Chancellor announced that we will help over 130,000 more families with the deposit they need to buy their own home by investing a further £10 billion in Help to Buy.
We have announced measures to give the increasing number of families who rent from a private landlord more security – and effective redress if their landlord is not maintaining their property.
And today, I can announce that we will invest an additional £2 billion in affordable housing – taking the Government’s total affordable housing budget to almost £9 billion.
We will encourage councils as well as housing associations to bid for this money and provide certainty over future rent levels. And in those parts of the country where the need is greatest, allow homes to be built for social rent, well below market level.
Getting government back into the business of building houses.
A new generation of council houses to help fix our broken housing market.
So whether you’re trying to buy your own home, renting privately and looking for more security, or have been waiting for years on a council list, help is on the way.
It won’t be quick or easy, but as Prime Minister I am going to make it my mission to solve this problem. I will take personal charge of the government’s response, and make the British Dream a reality by reigniting home ownership in Britain once again.
And let me say one more thing. I want to send the clearest possible message to our house builders. We, the government, will make sure the land is available. We’ll make sure our young people have the skills you need. In return, you must do your duty to Britain and build the homes our country needs.
And to renew the British Dream for a new generation of young people we must also take action on student debt.
As Conservatives, we know education can be the key to unlocking the future. That’s why for more than a century, it has been Conservative Education Secretaries who have driven the reforms that have widened access and raised standards. And it’s why we want everyone to have the opportunity to benefit from studying more after they leave school. Because it’s good for them and good for the country too.
But today, young people take on a huge amount of debt to do so.
And if we’re honest, some don’t know what they get from it in return.
We have listened and we have learned.
So we will undertake a major review of university funding and student financing.
We will scrap the increase in fees that was due next year, and freeze the maximum rate while the review takes place.
And we will increase the amount graduates can earn before they start repaying their fees to £25,000 – putting money back into the pockets of graduates with high levels of debt.
FIXING OUR BROKEN ENERGY MARKET
For while we are in favour of free markets, we will always take action to fix them when they’re broken. We will always take on monopolies and vested interests when they are holding people back.
And one of the greatest examples in Britain today is the broken energy market.
Because the energy market punishes loyalty with higher prices. And the most loyal customers are often those with lower incomes: the elderly, people with lower qualifications and people who rent their homes. Those who for whatever reason, are unable to find the time to shop around. That’s why next week, this Government will publish a Draft Bill to put a price cap on energy bills. Meeting our manifesto promise. And bringing an end to rip-off energy prices once and for all.
A UNITED COUNTRY
So we have a big task before us. An agenda to follow. A duty to uphold.
To renew the British Dream for a new generation, and bring our country together again.
For a country that’s divided can never make the most of its potential. And we need to harness that potential if we’re to compete and succeed in the years ahead.
That’s why where others seek to bring division, we must stand united. Recognising as Jo Cox put it that we have more in common than what divides us. It’s why I will always be proud to call myself a Unionist – and proud to be the leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party too.
Because that word means something special to me. It stands for this great union of nations that has so much to offer the world. And it stands for this great union of people – people from all over the world who have made their homes here and are proud to call themselves British. Attracted by the strength of the British Dream.
We are an example to the world of how people of different colours and creeds can live side-by-side. And we celebrate that.
And as a proud Unionist, I take comfort that the General Election saw the threat of nationalism set back, the case for a second referendum in Scotland denied. And wasn’t it a brilliant result for the Scottish Conservatives and their superb leader, Ruth Davidson?
Together, quite simply, we are stronger. So we must unite the country around our Conservative vision of a global, prosperous Britain in which the British Dream is alive. That means showing that we’re determined to make a difference. To doing something, not being someone. To doing our duty by Britain again. Because people are fed-up with the game-playing, the name-calling. The refusal to listen to the other’s point of view. We can look around the world and see where this approach to politics gets us – anger, recrimination and polarisation too.
So we must – all of us – look inside. Consider how we conduct our politics in this country. And find a better way.
For there is a big problem in our politics when an MP from one party refuses to be friends with those of another.
There is a problem in our politics when a leading journalist from our national broadcaster has to hire bodyguards just to be able to do her job.
There is a problem when one of our two great political parties is so riven with the stain of anti-semitism that even one of its own council leaders questions if they will be welcome in his city again.
Let me be clear: racism, intolerance and hatred has no place in British politics or British society. This party will never permit it. We will always stamp it out.
Britain can do better than this. For this country is – and has always been – the home of tolerance, a bastion of freedom and a beacon of democracy.
And this city of Manchester knows it better than anyone. Because four months ago, this city came under attack from those who hate our country and despise our values.
The liberty we extend to everyone, whoever they are and wherever they are from.
The way in which our society is open, accepting, and tolerant of others. The fact that we celebrate diversity and champion difference. The way we encourage people from all backgrounds and beliefs to live their lives in freedom. To be all they want to be.
And because of this hatred, they chose to take out their rage on the defenceless and vulnerable. The innocent and the young.
Let us be in no doubt: the responsibility for such an outrage lies with no one other than those who planned it, and those who saw it through.
And this party, which knows the terrible toll of terrorism all too well, will never seek to justify or excuse such acts of terror. We will stand strong in the face of terrorism and ensure our values always prevail.
But what we remember most from the cowardly attack on the Manchester Arena is the response of the Spirit of Manchester.
People throwing open their doors to strangers, giving them a place to shelter.
Taxi drivers helping people get home safely, accepting no fare in return.
Ordinary people rushing to the scene of destruction. Putting themselves in harm’s way.
The incredible men and women of the emergency services running towards the carnage, while others dropped what they were doing and went back to work to help.
But above all, an image of a community coming together. Men and women, young and old, black and white, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Hindu, Jew, standing together as one.
And it was that image of this city – an image of modern Britain in all its diversity, compassion and strength – that was shared around the globe.
And it said something about us.
It said that this is modern Britain. A country of promise, of potential, of hope.
And perhaps we too easily forget that. But we must hold on to that essential truth.
THE POTENTIAL OF BRITAIN
For we are a nation of dreamers, with the capacity to deliver those dreams too.
Cities like Manchester were the pioneers that fired the industrial revolution, helping to make Britain the workshop of the world. And it’s this heritage that means today we export to and trade with nations in every corner of the globe.
It was here in Britain that we discovered the structure of DNA, the biological code for life. All the technologies for sequencing the human genome have been developed in this country. And today we are using this knowledge to improve human health.
Back in the 1970s it was scientists in Oxford who invented the lithium ion battery which powers all laptops and mobile phones. Today we continue to be pioneers in this sector, funding new battery technologies for electric cars and renewable energy. Technologies we will soon be exporting around the world.
Within a few hundred yards of here you will find the world’s first passenger railway station. And a few hundred yards beyond that a new research facility to develop the extraordinary material Graphene, for which two scientists here in Manchester won the Nobel prize.
And let me say this to George Osborne – you were right to back it as part of the Northern Powerhouse and this Government will back it too.
So the future is bright, our potential is great, and if we choose the right path, the British Dream can be renewed.
CONCLUSION: FULFILLING OUR DUTY TO BRITAIN
So let us do our duty by Britain. Let us shape up and give the country the government it needs.
For beyond this hall, beyond the gossip pages of the newspapers, and beyond the streets, corridors and meeting rooms of Westminster, life continues – the daily lives of working people go on.
Many pay little attention to great conferences and gatherings like this.
They get up early and go to work. They want to know their job is going to last and that they are going to get paid a fair wage. They want to know that the school their children go to is the best it can be. That they will be cared for when they fall ill. That they will have safety and security as they advance towards old age.
And they want to believe in the British Dream: that their children will do better than themselves. That they will have the opportunity to lead happy, successful, secure lives. That they will have the chance to be all they want to be.
These are the priorities that it is our duty to respond to. The priorities of working people up and down this land. And they must be our only focus.
Not worrying about our job security, but theirs. Not addressing our concerns, but the issues, the problems, the challenges, that concern them. Not focusing on our future, but on the future of their children and their grandchildren – doing everything we can to ensure their tomorrow will be better than our today.
That is what I am in politics for. To make a difference. To change things for the better. To hand on to the next generation a country that is stronger, fairer and more prosperous. And to renew the British Dream for a new generation again.
None of this will be easy. There will be obstacles and barriers along the way.
But it has never been my style to hide from a challenge, to shrink from a task, to retreat in the face of difficulty, to give up and turn away.
For the test of a leader is how you respond when tough times come upon you.
When faced with challenge, if you emerge stronger. When confronted with adversity, if you find the will to pull through.
And it is when tested the most that we reach deep within ourselves and find that our capacity to rise to the challenge before us may well be limitless.
That is the story of our party. That is the story of our country.
And that is the resolve and determination we need as we turn to face the future today.
So let us go forward together.
Confident in our values. Clear in our vision. Sure in our purpose.
With a rich, ambitious agenda to follow. A bold, exciting mission to pursue.
Let us fulfil our duty to the British people.
Let us fulfil our duty to our country.
Let us fulfil our duty to Britain.
Let us renew the British Dream.”
Transcript courtesy of The Spectator
Full transcript and video of UK Prime Minister Theresa May laying out her grand vision for a European partnership in the post-Brexit timeframe focusing on the key points of, ‘Shared History, Shared Challenges, Shared Future’ in her speech delivered in Florence, Italy on September 22, 2017.
“It’s good to be here in this great city of Florence today at a critical time in the evolution of the relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union.
It was here, more than anywhere else, that the Renaissance began – a period of history that inspired centuries of creativity and critical thought across our continent and which in many ways defined what it meant to be European.
A period of history whose example shaped the modern world. A period of history that teaches us that when we come together in a spirit of ambition and innovation, we have it within ourselves to do great things.
That shows us that if we open our minds to new thinking and new possibilities, we can forge a better, brighter future for all our peoples.
And that is what I want to focus on today. For we are moving through a new and critical period in the history of the United Kingdom’s relationship with the European Union.
The British people have decided to leave the EU; and to be a global, free-trading nation, able to chart our own way in the world.
For many, this is an exciting time, full of promise; for others it is a worrying one.
I look ahead with optimism, believing that if we use this moment to change not just our relationship with Europe, but also the way we do things at home, this will be a defining moment in the history of our nation.
And it is an exciting time for many in Europe too. The European Union is beginning a new chapter in the story of its development. Just last week, President Juncker set out his ambitions for the future of the European Union.
There is a vibrant debate going on about the shape of the EU’s institutions and the direction of the Union in the years ahead. We don’t want to stand in the way of that.
Indeed, we want to be your strongest friend and partner as the EU, and the UK thrive side by side.
And that partnership is important. For as we look ahead, we see shared challenges and opportunities in common.
Here in Italy today, our two countries are working together to tackle some of the greatest challenges of our time; challenges where all too often geography has put Italy on the frontline.
As I speak, Britain’s Royal Navy, National Crime Agency and Border Force are working alongside their Italian partners to save lives in the Mediterranean and crack down on the evil traffickers who are exploiting desperate men, women and children who seek a better life.
Our two countries are also working together in the fight against terrorism – from our positions at the forefront of the international coalition against Daesh to our work to disrupt the networks terrorist groups use to finance their operations and recruit to their ranks.
And earlier this week, I was delighted that Prime Minister Gentiloni was able to join President Macron and myself in convening the first ever UN summit of government and industry to move further and faster in preventing terrorist use of the Internet.
Mass migration and terrorism are but two examples of the challenges to our shared European interests and values that we can only solve in partnership.
The weakening growth of global trade; the loss of popular support for the forces of liberalism and free trade that is driving moves towards protectionism; the threat of climate change depleting and degrading the planet we leave for future generations; and most recently, the outrageous proliferation of nuclear weapons by North Korea with a threat to use them.
Here on our own continent, we see territorial aggression to the east; and from the South threats from instability and civil war; terrorism, crime and other challenges which respect no borders.
The only way for us to respond to this vast array of challenges is for likeminded nations and peoples to come together and defend the international order that we have worked so hard to create – and the values of liberty, democracy, human rights and the rule of law by which we stand.
Britain has always – and will always – stand with its friends and allies in defence of these values.
Our decision to leave the European Union is in no way a repudiation of this longstanding commitment. We may be leaving the European Union, but we are not leaving Europe.
Our resolve to draw on the full weight of our military, intelligence, diplomatic and development resources to lead international action, with our partners, on the issues that affect the security and prosperity of our peoples is unchanged.
Our commitment to the defence – and indeed the advance – of our shared values is undimmed.
Our determination to defend the stability, security and prosperity of our European neighbours and friends remains steadfast.
The decision of the British people
And we will do all this as a sovereign nation in which the British people are in control.
Their decision to leave the institution of the European Union was an expression of that desire – a statement about how they want their democracy to work.
They want more direct control of decisions that affect their daily lives; and that means those decisions being made in Britain by people directly accountable to them.
The strength of feeling that the British people have about this need for control and the direct accountability of their politicians is one reason why, throughout its membership, the United Kingdom has never totally felt at home being in the European Union.
And perhaps because of our history and geography, the European Union never felt to us like an integral part of our national story in the way it does to so many elsewhere in Europe.
It is a matter of choices. The profound pooling of sovereignty that is a crucial feature of the European Union permits unprecedentedly deep cooperation, which brings benefits.
But it also means that when countries are in the minority they must sometimes accept decisions they do not want, even affecting domestic matters with no market implications beyond their borders. And when such decisions are taken, they can be very hard to change.
So the British electorate made a choice. They chose the power of domestic democratic control over pooling that control, strengthening the role of the UK Parliament and the devolved Scottish Parliament, Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies in deciding our laws.
That is our choice. It does not mean we are no longer a proud member of the family of European nations. And it does not mean we are turning our back on Europe; or worse that we do not wish the EU to succeed. The success of the EU is profoundly in our national interest and that of the wider world.
But having made this choice, the question now is whether we – the leaders of Britain, and of the EU’s Member States and institutions – can demonstrate that creativity, that innovation, that ambition that we need to shape a new partnership to the benefit of all our people.
I believe we must. And I believe we can.
For while the UK’s departure from the EU is inevitably a difficult process, it is in all of our interests for our negotiations to succeed. If we were to fail, or be divided, the only beneficiaries would be those who reject our values and oppose our interests.
So I believe we share a profound sense of responsibility to make this change work smoothly and sensibly, not just for people today but for the next generation who will inherit the world we leave them.
The eyes of the world are on us, but if we can be imaginative and creative about the way we establish this new relationship, if we can proceed on the basis of trust in each other, I believe we can be optimistic about the future we can build for the United Kingdom and for the European Union.
In my speech at Lancaster House earlier this year, I set out the UK’s negotiating objectives.
Those still stand today. Since that speech and the triggering of Article 50 in March, the UK has published 14 papers to address the current issues in the talks and set out the building blocks of the relationship we would like to see with the EU, both as we leave, and into the future.
We have now conducted three rounds of negotiations. And while, at times, these negotiations have been tough, it is clear that, thanks to the professionalism and diligence of David Davis and Michel Barnier, we have made concrete progress on many important issues.
For example, we have recognised from the outset there are unique issues to consider when it comes to Northern Ireland.
The UK government, the Irish government and the EU as a whole have been clear that through the process of our withdrawal we will protect progress made in Northern Ireland over recent years – and the lives and livelihoods that depend on this progress.
As part of this, we and the EU have committed to protecting the Belfast Agreement and the Common Travel Area and, looking ahead, we have both stated explicitly that we will not accept any physical infrastructure at the border.
We owe it to the people of Northern Ireland – and indeed to everyone on the island of Ireland – to see through these commitments.
We have also made significant progress on how we look after European nationals living in the UK and British nationals living in the 27 Member States of the EU.
I know this whole process has been a cause of great worry and anxiety for them and their loved ones.
But I want to repeat to the 600,000 Italians in the UK – and indeed to all EU citizens who have made their lives in our country – that we want you to stay; we value you; and we thank you for your contribution to our national life – and it has been, and remains, one of my first goals in this negotiation to ensure that you can carry on living your lives as before.
I am clear that the guarantee I am giving on your rights is real. And I doubt anyone with real experience of the UK would doubt the independence of our courts or of the rigour with which they will uphold people’s legal rights.
But I know there are concerns that over time the rights of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens overseas will diverge. I want to incorporate our agreement fully into UK law and make sure the UK courts can refer directly to it.
Where there is uncertainty around underlying EU law, I want the UK courts to be able to take into account the judgments of the European Court of Justice with a view to ensuring consistent interpretation. On this basis, I hope our teams can reach firm agreement quickly.
At the moment, the negotiations are focused on the arrangements for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. But we need to move on to talk about our future relationship.
Of course, we recognise that we can’t leave the EU and have everything stay the same. Life for us will be different.
But what we do want – and what we hope that you, our European friends, want too – is to stay as partners who carry on working together for our mutual benefit.
In short, we want to work hand in hand with the European Union, rather than as part of the European Union.
That is why in my speech at Lancaster House I said that the United Kingdom would seek to secure a new, deep and special partnership with the European Union.
And this should span both a new economic relationship and a new relationship on security.
So let me set out what each of these relationships could look like – before turning to the question of how we get there.
Let me start with the economic partnership.
The United Kingdom is leaving the European Union. We will no longer be members of its single market or its customs union. For we understand that the single market’s four freedoms are indivisible for our European friends.
We recognise that the single market is built on a balance of rights and obligations. And we do not pretend that you can have all the benefits of membership of the single market without its obligations.
So our task is to find a new framework that allows for a close economic partnership but holds those rights and obligations in a new and different balance.
But as we work out together how to do so, we do not start with a blank sheet of paper, like other external partners negotiating a free trade deal from scratch have done.
In fact, we start from an unprecedented position. For we have the same rules and regulations as the EU – and our EU Withdrawal Bill will ensure they are carried over into our domestic law at the moment we leave the EU.
So the question for us now in building a new economic partnership is not how we bring our rules and regulations closer together, but what we do when one of us wants to make changes.
One way of approaching this question is to put forward a stark and unimaginative choice between two models: either something based on European Economic Area membership; or a traditional Free Trade Agreement, such as that the EU has recently negotiated with Canada.
I don’t believe either of these options would be best for the UK or best for the European Union.
European Economic Area membership would mean the UK having to adopt at home – automatically and in their entirety – new EU rules. Rules over which, in future, we will have little influence and no vote.
Such a loss of democratic control could not work for the British people. I fear it would inevitably lead to friction and then a damaging re-opening of the nature of our relationship in the near future: the very last thing that anyone on either side of the Channel wants.
As for a Canadian style free trade agreement, we should recognise that this is the most advanced free trade agreement the EU has yet concluded and a breakthrough in trade between Canada and the EU.
But compared with what exists between Britain and the EU today, it would nevertheless represent such a restriction on our mutual market access that it would benefit neither of our economies.
Not only that, it would start from the false premise that there is no pre-existing regulatory relationship between us. And precedent suggests that it could take years to negotiate.
We can do so much better than this.
As I said at Lancaster House, let us not seek merely to adopt a model already enjoyed by other countries. Instead let us be creative as well as practical in designing an ambitious economic partnership which respects the freedoms and principles of the EU, and the wishes of the British people.
I believe there are good reasons for this level of optimism and ambition.
First of all, the UK is the EU’s largest trading partner, one of the largest economies in the world, and a market of considerable importance for many businesses and jobs across the continent. And the EU is our largest trading partner, so it is in all our interests to find a creative solution.
The European Union has shown in the past that creative arrangements can be agreed in other areas. For example, it has developed a diverse array of arrangements with neighbouring countries outside the EU, both in economic relations and in justice and home affairs.
Furthermore, we share the same set of fundamental beliefs; a belief in free trade, rigorous and fair competition, strong consumer rights, and that trying to beat other countries’ industries by unfairly subsidising one’s own is a serious mistake.
So there is no need to impose tariffs where we have none now, and I don’t think anyone sensible is contemplating this.
And as we have set out in a future partnership paper, when it comes to trade in goods, we will do everything we can to avoid friction at the border. But of course the regulatory issues are crucial.
We share a commitment to high regulatory standards.
People in Britain do not want shoddy goods, shoddy services, a poor environment or exploitative working practices and I can never imagine them thinking those things to be acceptable.
The government I lead is committed not only to protecting high standards, but strengthening them.
So I am optimistic about what we can achieve by finding a creative solution to a new economic relationship that can support prosperity for all our peoples.
Now in any trading relationship, both sides have to agree on a set of rules which govern how each side behaves.
So we will need to discuss with our European partners new ways of managing our interdependence and our differences, in the context of our shared values.
There will be areas of policy and regulation which are outside the scope of our trade and economic relations where this should be straightforward.
There will be areas which do affect our economic relations where we and our European friends may have different goals; or where we share the same goals but want to achieve them through different means.
And there will be areas where we want to achieve the same goals in the same ways, because it makes sense for our economies.
And because rights and obligations must be held in balance, the decisions we both take will have consequences for the UK’s access to European markets and vice versa.
To make this partnership work, because disagreements inevitably arise, we will need a strong and appropriate dispute resolution mechanism.
It is, of course, vital that any agreement reached – its specific terms and the principles on which it is based – are interpreted in the same way by the European Union and the United Kingdom and we want to discuss how we do that.
This could not mean the European Court of Justice – or indeed UK courts – being the arbiter of disputes about the implementation of the agreement between the UK and the EU however.
It wouldn’t be right for one party’s court to have jurisdiction over the other. But I am confident we can find an appropriate mechanism for resolving disputes.
So this new economic partnership, would be comprehensive and ambitious. It would be underpinned by high standards, and a practical approach to regulation that enables us to continue to work together in bringing shared prosperity to our peoples for generations to come.
Let me turn to the new security relationship that we want to see.
To keep our people safe and to secure our values and interests, I believe it is essential that, although the UK is leaving the EU, the quality of our cooperation on security is maintained.
We believe we should be as open-minded as possible about how we continue to work together on what can be life and death matters.
Our security co-operation is not just vital because our people face the same threats, but also because we share a deep, historic belief in the same values – the values of peace, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
Of course, there is no pre-existing model for co-operation between the EU and external partners which replicates the full-scale and depth of the collaboration that currently exists between the EU and the UK on security, law enforcement and criminal justice.
But as the threats we face evolve faster than ever, I believe it is vital that we work together to design new, dynamic arrangements that go beyond the existing arrangements that the EU has in this area – and draw on the legal models the EU has previously used to structure co-operation with external partners in other fields such as trade.
So we are proposing a bold new strategic agreement that provides a comprehensive framework for future security, law enforcement and criminal justice co-operation: a treaty between the UK and the EU.
This would complement the extensive and mature bi-lateral relationships that we already have with European friends to promote our common security.
Our ambition would be to build a model that is underpinned by our shared principles, including high standards of data protection and human rights.
It would be kept sufficiently versatile and dynamic to respond to the ever-evolving threats that we face. And it would create an ongoing dialogue in which law enforcement and criminal justice priorities can be shared and – where appropriate – tackled jointly.
We are also proposing a far-reaching partnership on how we protect Europe together from the threats we face in the world today; how we work together to promote our shared values and interests abroad; whether security, spreading the rule of law, dealing with emerging threats, handling the migration crisis or helping countries out of poverty.
The United Kingdom has outstanding capabilities. We have the biggest defence budget in Europe, and one of the largest development budgets in the world. We have a far-reaching diplomatic network, and world-class security, intelligence and law enforcement services.
So what we are offering will be unprecedented in its breadth, taking in cooperation on diplomacy, defence and security, and development.
And it will be unprecedented in its depth, in terms of the degree of engagement that we would aim to deliver.
It is our ambition to work as closely as possible together with the EU, protecting our people, promoting our values and ensuring the future security of our continent.
The United Kingdom is unconditionally committed to maintaining Europe’s security. And the UK will continue to offer aid and assistance to EU member states that are the victims of armed aggression, terrorism and natural or manmade disasters.
Taken as a whole, this bold new security partnership will not only reflect our history and the practical benefits of co-operation in tackling shared threats, but also demonstrate the UK’s genuine commitment to promoting our shared values across the world and to maintaining a secure and prosperous Europe.
That is the partnership I want Britain and the European Union to have in the future.
None of its goals should be controversial. Everything I have said is about creating a long-term relationship through which the nations of the European Union and the United Kingdom can work together for the mutual benefit of all our people.
If we adopt this vision of a deep and special partnership, the question is then how we get there: how we build a bridge from where we are now to where we want to be.
The United Kingdom will cease to be a member of the European Union on 29th March 2019.
We will no longer sit at the European Council table or in the Council of Ministers, and we will no longer have Members of the European Parliament.
Our relations with countries outside the EU can be developed in new ways, including through our own trade negotiations, because we will no longer be an EU country, and we will no longer directly benefit from the EU’s future trade negotiations.
But the fact is that, at that point, neither the UK – nor the EU and its Members States – will be in a position to implement smoothly many of the detailed arrangements that will underpin this new relationship we seek.
Neither is the European Union legally able to conclude an agreement with the UK as an external partner while it is itself still part of the European Union.
And such an agreement on the future partnership will require the appropriate legal ratification, which would take time.
It is also the case that people and businesses – both in the UK and in the EU – would benefit from a period to adjust to the new arrangements in a smooth and orderly way.
As I said in my speech at Lancaster House a period of implementation would be in our mutual interest. That is why I am proposing that there should be such a period after the UK leaves the EU.
Clearly people, businesses and public services should only have to plan for one set of changes in the relationship between the UK and the EU.
So during the implementation period access to one anothers’ markets should continue on current terms and Britain also should continue to take part in existing security measures. And I know businesses, in particular, would welcome the certainty this would provide.
The framework for this strictly time-limited period, which can be agreed under Article 50, would be the existing structure of EU rules and regulations.
How long the period is should be determined simply by how long it will take to prepare and implement the new processes and new systems that will underpin that future partnership.
For example, it will take time to put in place the new immigration system required to re-take control of the UK’s borders.
So during the implementation period, people will continue to be able to come and live and work in the UK; but there will be a registration system – an essential preparation for the new regime.
As of today, these considerations point to an implementation period of around two years.
But because I don’t believe that either the EU or the British people will want the UK to stay longer in the existing structures than is necessary, we could also agree to bring forward aspects of that future framework such as new dispute resolution mechanisms more quickly if this can be done smoothly.
It is clear that what would be most helpful to people and businesses on both sides, who want this process to be smooth and orderly, is for us to agree the detailed arrangements for this implementation period as early as possible. Although we recognise that the EU institutions will need to adopt a formal position.
And at the heart of these arrangements, there should be a clear double lock: a guarantee that there will be a period of implementation giving businesses and people alike the certainty that they will be able to prepare for the change; and a guarantee that this implementation period will be time-limited, giving everyone the certainty that this will not go on for ever.
These arrangements will create valuable certainty.
But in this context I am conscious that our departure causes another type of uncertainty for the remaining member states and their taxpayers over the EU budget.
Some of the claims made on this issue are exaggerated and unhelpful and we can only resolve this as part of the settlement of all the issues I have been talking about today.
Still I do not want our partners to fear that they will need to pay more or receive less over the remainder of the current budget plan as a result of our decision to leave. The UK will honour commitments we have made during the period of our membership.
And as we move forwards, we will also want to continue working together in ways that promote the long-term economic development of our continent.
This includes continuing to take part in those specific policies and programmes which are greatly to the UK and the EU’s joint advantage, such as those that promote science, education and culture – and those that promote our mutual security.
And as I set out in my speech at Lancaster House, in doing so, we would want to make an ongoing contribution to cover our fair share of the costs involved.
When I gave my speech at the beginning of this year I spoke not just about the preparations we were making for a successful negotiation but also about our preparations for our life outside the European Union – with or without what I hope will be a successful deal.
And the necessary work continues on all these fronts so that we are able to meet any eventual outcome.
But as we meet here today, in this city of creativity and rebirth, let us open our minds to the possible.
To a new era of cooperation and partnership between the United Kingdom and the European Union. And to a stronger, fairer, more prosperous future for us all.
For that is the prize if we get this negotiation right.
A sovereign United Kingdom and a confident European Union, both free to chart their own course.
A new partnership of values and interests.
A new alliance that can stand strongly together in the world.
That is the goal towards which we must work in the months ahead as the relationship between Britain and Europe evolves.
However it does so, I am clear that Britain’s future is bright.
Our fundamentals are strong: a legal system respected around the world; a keen openness to foreign investment; an enthusiasm for innovation; an ease of doing business; some of the best universities and researchers you can find anywhere; an exceptional national talent for creativity and an indomitable spirit.
It is our fundamental strengths that really determine a country’s success and that is why Britain’s economy will always be strong.
There are other reasons why our future should give us confidence. We will always be a champion of economic openness; we will always be a country whose pitch to the world is high standards at home.
When we differ from the EU in our regulatory choices, it won’t be to try to attain an unfair competitive advantage, it will be because we want rules that are right for Britain’s particular situation.
The best way for us both to succeed is to fulfil the potential of the partnership I have set out today.
For we should be in no doubt, that if our collective endeavours in these negotiations were to prove insufficient to reach an agreement, it would be a failure in the eyes of history and a damaging blow to the future of our continent.
Indeed, I believe the difference between where we would all be if we fail – and where we could be if we can achieve the kind of new partnership I have set out today – to be so great that it is beholden on all of us involved to demonstrate the leadership and flexibility needed to ensure that we succeed.
Yes, the negotiations to get there will be difficult. But if we approach them in the right way – respectful of the challenges for both sides and pragmatic about resolving them – we can find a way forward that makes a success of this for all of our peoples.
I recognise that this is not something that you – our European partners – wanted to do. It is a distraction from what you want to get on with. But we have to get this right.
And we both want to get this done as swiftly as possible.
So it is up to leaders to set the tone.
And the tone I want to set is one of partnership and friendship.
A tone of trust, the cornerstone of any relationship.
For if we get the spirit of this negotiation right; if we get the spirit of this partnership right, then at the end of this process we will find that we are able to resolve the issues where we disagree respectfully and quickly.
And if we can do that, then when this chapter of our European history is written, it will be remembered not for the differences we faced but for the vision we showed; not for the challenges we endured but for the creativity we used to overcome them; not for a relationship that ended but a new partnership that began.
A partnership of interests, a partnership of values; a partnership of ambition for a shared future: the UK and the EU side by side delivering prosperity and opportunity for all our people.
This is the future within our grasp – so, together, let us seize it.”
Published: 22 September 2017
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Prime Minister’s Office,
10 Downing Street
Department for Exiting the European Union
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Transcript and video of UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly, New York City, United States on September 20, 2017 on the vast array of challenges to the existing international order and the shared values of fairness, justice and human rights that unite United Nations member countries.
Full Transcript of Theresa May’s UN Speech, September 20, 2017
“Mr President, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to begin by expressing my sincere condolences to the government and people of Mexico following the devastating earthquake. I also want to reiterate my sympathies to those affected by the recent hurricanes in the Caribbean. Our thoughts are with them all at this time.
As we meet at this General Assembly we face challenges that go right to the heart of who we are as nations. Challenges that test our values, our vision and our resolve to defend the rules and standards that underpin the security and prosperity of our fellow citizens. As I argued in my speech here last year, many of these challenges do not recognise or respect geographical boundaries. I think of course of the terrorism that has struck so many of our countries including my own 5 times this year. And fuelling that terrorist threat the increasing numbers being drawn to extremist ideologies not only in places riven by conflict and instability, but many online in their homes thousands of miles away from those conflicts. I think of the climate change which is depleting and degrading the planet we leave to our children.
And I think of the vast challenges that come from the mass displacement of people. Many are refugees fleeing conflict and persecution. Others, are economic migrants, prepared to risk everything on perilous sea crossings in the desperate search for a better life for themselves and their children. Through this migration we also see the challenges of economic inequality between countries and within them. This inequality, together with weaknesses in the global trading system, threatens to undermine support for the forces of liberalism and free trade that have done so much to propel global growth. And it is pushing some countries towards protectionism in the belief that this best defends the interests of their own people.
And as the global system struggles to adapt we are confronted by states deliberately flouting for their own gain the rules and standards that have secured our collective prosperity and security. The unforgiveable use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime against its own people and perhaps foremost in our minds today the outrageous proliferation of nuclear weapons by North Korea and a threat to use them.
I believe that the only way for us to respond to this vast array of challenges is to come together and defend the international order that we have worked so hard to create and the values by which we stand. For it is the fundamental values that we share, values of fairness, justice and human rights, that have created the common cause between nations to act together in our shared interest and form the multilateral system. And it is this rules-based system which we have developed, including the institutions, the international frameworks of free and fair trade, agreements such as the Paris Climate Accord and laws and conventions like the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which enables the global cooperation through which we can protect those values.
Indeed, the defining purpose of the UN Charter is to maintain international peace and security, to develop friendly relations among nations, to achieve international cooperation in solving problems of an economic, social, cultural or humanitarian character; and to be a centre for harmonising the actions of nations in the attainment of those common ends. And I do not see these as vaunted ideals to be held for their own sake. These values and the rules they imbue are central to our national interest, to our security and prosperity. And the international system with the UN at its heart is the amplifying force that enables countries to cooperate and live up to the standards in word, spirit and deed, to our collective and individual benefit.
If this system we have created is found no longer to be capable of meeting the challenges of our time then there will be a crisis of faith in multilateralism and global cooperation that will damage the interests of all our peoples. So those of us who hold true to our shared values, who hold true to that desire to defend the rules and high standards that have shaped and protected the world we live in, need to strive harder than ever to show that institutions like this United Nations can work for the countries that form them and for the people who we represent.
This means reforming our United Nations and the wider international system so it can prove its worth in helping us to meet the challenges of the 21st Century. And it means ensuring that those who flout the rules and spirit of our international system are held to account, that nations honour their responsibilities and play their part in upholding and renewing a rules-based international order that can deliver prosperity and security for us all.
First, we must ensure that our multilateral institutions can deliver the aspirations on which they were founded. Think of UNHCR looking after those who’ve been driven out of their homes. The OPCW striving for a world free of chemical weapons. UNICEF helping children in danger. These are all vital missions where the UN surely has a unique role to play. And that is why the UK has over 70 years been such a pioneering supporter of these organisations and more.
But we should also acknowledge that throughout its history the UN has suffered from a seemingly unbridgeable gap between the nobility of its purposes and the effectiveness of its delivery. When the need for multilateral action has never been greater the shortcomings of the UN and its institutions risk undermining the confidence of states as members and donors. Even more importantly they risk the confidence and faith of those who rely upon the blue helmets, who rely upon that sign I stand in front of today coming to their aid in the darkest of hours.
So we must begin by supporting the ambitious reform agenda that Secretary-General Guterres is now leading to create a more agile, transparent and joined-up organisation. Much of this work will be practical and unglamorous. It will require the UN to deliver better cooperation on the ground between agencies, remove competition for funding and improve gender equality. But it will also require real leadership to confront damaging issues that have beset the UN. So I welcome the Secretary-General’s new circle of leadership on preventing sexual exploitation and abuse in UN operations and I’m pleased to be part of this initiative.
We, the nations of the UN, need to give the Secretary-General our backing for these reforms and as an outward-looking global Britain and the second biggest funder of the UN the UK will remain committed to spending 0.7% of GNI on development and humanitarian support. We will use our military to support peacekeeping and our diplomats will continue to work to tackle conflict and support peace building. In turn the UN and its agencies must win our trust by proving to us and to the people we represent that they can deliver. And that is why we will remain generous in our funding but set aside 30% to be paid only to those parts of the UN that achieve sufficient results.
But this is about more than technical reforms, important as they are. It is also about reforms that enable the United Nations to truly respond to the global challenges of the 21st century. At last year’s General Assembly we undertook to do far more to resolve the challenges of refugee and migration flows. We agreed to develop global compacts to address the causes and the consequences of the mass movements of people we see today. This was an important step to elevate significantly our global response and enable us collectively to tackle this challenge of our times.
So in the year ahead as well as agreeing the principles of these compacts we must ensure they can be applied in practice. We must do more to identify, protect and support refugees and those hosting them near conflicts. And on migration our starting point must be that it can benefit both countries and migrants themselves but only when it is safe, orderly, well-managed and legal. If we do not manage this effectively, we will fail both our own citizens and those taking these dangerous journeys. And we will push more people into the curse of modern slavery and the hands of the human traffickers and organised criminal groups that drive this inhuman industry.
But the steps we are agreeing through these compacts alone will not be enough. For if people cannot find jobs, opportunity and hope for themselves and their families where they live they will continue to look elsewhere. And so as the United Nations and as members, we must work harder to combine the efforts of our development programmes with the private sector and the international financial institutions. To support the creation of jobs and livelihoods that will address not just the consequences, but the causes of this great challenge of our time. For the truth is that despite our best efforts, we are not succeeding. We must do more.
The same is true with terrorism, where again the challenges we face today are vastly different from those of previous eras. When terrorists struck London and Manchester this year, the world saw our cities come together in defiance. Our parliament carries on. Ariana Grande came back to Manchester and sang again. London Bridge is bustling with people. Our communities came together at the Finsbury Park mosque in North London. And Londoners got back on the Tube. The terrorists did not win, for we will never let anyone destroy our way of life.
But defiance alone is not enough. As leaders, we have all visited too many hospitals, and seen too many innocent people murdered in our countries. In the last decade, hundreds of thousands have been killed by terrorists across the world. This is a truly global tragedy that is increasingly touching the lives of us all. This year is the tenth anniversary of the death of the woman who introduced me to my husband, and who was known well to many of us in this United Nations. Benazir Bhutto was brutally murdered by people who actively rejected the values that all of us here in this United Nations stand for. In a country that has suffered more than most at the hands of terrorists. Murdered for standing up for democracy, murdered for espousing tolerance, and murdered for being a woman.
When I think of the hundreds of thousands of victims of terrorism in countries across the world, I think of their friends, their families, their communities, devastated by this evil, and I say enough is enough. So of course, we must continue to take the fight to these terrorist groups on the battlefield. And the UK will remain at the forefront of this effort, while also helping to build the capabilities of our alliances and our partners to better take on this challenge. And we must also step up our efforts as never before to tackle the terrorist use of the internet. For as the threat from terrorists evolves, so must our cooperation. And that is why today, for the first time in the UN, governments and industry through the Global Internet Forum for Counterterrorism will be coming together to do just that.
The tech companies have made significant progress on this issue, but we need to go further and faster to reduce the time it takes to reduce terrorist content online, and to increase significantly their efforts to stop it being uploaded in the first place. This is a major step in reclaiming the internet from those who would use it to do us harm. But ultimately, it is not just the terrorists themselves who we need to defeat, it is the extremist ideologies that fuel them. It is the ideologies that preach hatred, sow division and undermine our common humanity. We must be far more robust in identifying these ideologies and defeating them across all parts of our societies.
As I said in the aftermath of the attack on London Bridge this summer, we have to face the fact that this will require some difficult conversations. We all need to come together, to take on this extremism that lives among us, and to nurture the common values that must ultimately win out. These are the values of this United Nations. And yet, despite our best efforts, we as nations and as a United Nations have not found the ways or the means to truly take on this threat. And that is why today, as I talk about UN reform, I ask the Secretary General to make this fight against terrorists and the ideologies that drive them a core part of his agenda, at the heart of our development, peace building, and conflict prevention work. And to give this effort the prominence it surely requires. I’m calling on the Secretary General to make this a theme of next year’s General Assembly and use this to harness the efforts of governments, the private sector, and civil society so that we can truly strike the generational blow against this vile evil in our world.
And as we do so, we must clearly strike the balance between protecting our people and protecting their freedoms. And we must always guard against those who would use the fight against terrorism as a cover for oppression and the violation of human rights. So as we look at the situation in Northern Burma, I call on the Burmese authorities to put an end to the violence, allow humanitarian access, and fully implement Annan Commission recommendations.
And so by reforming our multinational institutions, we can strengthen their ability to deliver for the people we serve, protect the vulnerable and fight injustice. We can enable multilateralism to multiply the effect of our individual commitments through its convening power and spending power. Through the economies of scale it can bring, the standards it can set, the moral leadership it can harness, and the legitimacy it can confer. But multilateralism can only reflect the values that individual states project, and can only multiply the commitments that they are prepared to make. It is strong nations that form strong institutions, and which provide the basis of the international partnerships and cooperation that brings stability to our world.
And so it falls to us all to decide whether we will honour the responsibilities that we have to one another. I’ve talked about the role of the UN in stepping up on counterterrorism. But this is an area where we as states have critical responsibilities, which the UN cannot itself address alone, for it is inescapable that the terrorism conflict and the instability that we see across the world is in many cases driven by the actions of states acting through proxies.
So when countries back groups like Hezbollah to increase instability and conflict across the Middle East, support so-called separatists in Ukraine to create instability on Europe’s eastern borders, or give tacit support to criminal groups launching cyber-attacks against our countries and institutions, they call into question the very rules and international systems that protect us. And that is why, both globally, but also in our own continent of Europe, the UK will remain steadfast in our commitment and responsibility to ensure the security and stability of our friends and allies as we have done for generations.
And just as it the responsibility of nations not to seek to advance their interests through terrorist or proxy groups, so it is also the responsibility of each of is to act together in the face of the most egregious violations of our common rules and standards. Clearly responsibility for the chaos and tragedy that we see in Syria lies firmly at the door of Asaad. He and his backers have continually frustrated the efforts of the UN to act as the broker of peace through the Geneva Process. As responsible states, we must not abandon our support for the UN’s attempts to secure peace and stability in Syria. And indeed, we must continue to call on all those with influence on the regime to bring them to the table.
But in recent weeks, the UN has also confirmed what we all knew, namely that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on its own people. In the face of that, we have a responsibility to stand up, to hold the Syrian regime to account. This responsibility sits with us all, but a particular special responsibility lies on the shoulders of the permanent members of the security council. And as one of these five members, the United Kingdom takes our special responsibility seriously.
So I am proud that we have used the full weight of our diplomacy to ensure that we have not had to exercise our veto in a generation. Seeking to foster international cooperation, not frustrate it. But others have not done so. One country in particular has used its veto as many times in the last five years as in the whole of the second half of the Cold War. And in so doing, they have prevented action against a despicable regime that has murdered its own people with chemical weapons. As a result, in Syria, the United Nations has been blocked. This has undermined the values that we hold dear, and the international rules based system that is the basis of security and prosperity around the world.
Now we face an even more immediate, global danger in the activities of Kim Jong Un and his regime in DPRK. Time after time he’s shown contempt for the international community of law-abiding states. Contempt for his neighbours and contempt for the institutions and rules that have preserved peace and security. On this challenge, the UN in recent weeks has shown it can step up to the task. With last Monday’s security council resolution creating the biggest sanctions package of the 21st Century. We have seen regional and global powers coming together and as in its founding charter putting aside limited self-interests to show leadership on behalf of the wider world. But despite these efforts, DPRK continues to defy and provoke the international community and threaten its neighbours. And unless all security council members continue to live up to the special responsibilities that are placed upon us, and in seeking to resolve this crisis, be prepared to take on necessary measures to tackle this threat, we will not be able to bring stability to the Korean Peninsula.
So as the world looks on, I am calling for further steps and for nations with this special responsibility to work together and exert the pressure we know is necessary to force Kim Jong Un to change his ways. Let us not fail this time. Let our message to North Korea be clear. Our determination to uphold these rules is stronger by far than their determination to undermine them.
Mr. President, throughout the history of this United Nations, countries have shown time and time again that by being true to our values, rules, and standards, it is possible to come together and to deliver in ways that have the most extraordinary impact on the lives of the people we serve. I believe we can do so again. We must do so again, and we will do so again.
Published: 20 September 2017
Updated: 22 September 2017
Transcript courtesy of:
Department for International Development Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Prime Minister’s Office,
10 Downing Street
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP