Prime Minister Theresa May’s Speech to the Republican Party Conference 2017
26 January 2017
Thank you, thank you.
Well, thank you very much for that fantastic welcome.
And can I say Majority Leader McConnell, Mr. Speaker, distinguished members of the Senate and Representatives of the House:
I would like to thank Congress and the Congressional Institute for the invitation to be here today. The opportunity to visit the United States is always special. And to be invited to be the first serving head of government to address this important conference is an honour indeed.
I defy any person to travel to this great country at any time and not to be inspired by its promise and its example.
For more than two centuries, the very idea of America, drawn from history and given written form in a small hall not far from here, has lit up the world.
That idea – that all are created equal and that all are born free – has never been surpassed in the long history of political thought.
And it is here – on the streets and in the halls of this great city of Philadelphia – that the founding fathers first set it down, that the textbook of freedom was written, and that this great nation that grew “from sea to shining sea” was born.
Since that day, it has been America’s destiny to bear the leadership of the free world and to carry that heavy responsibility on its shoulders. But my country, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, has been proud to share that burden and to walk alongside you at every stage.
For the past century, Britain and America – and the unique and special relationship that exists between us – have taken the idea conceived by those “56 rank-and-file, ordinary citizens”, as President Reagan called them, forward. And because we have done so, time and again, it is the relationship between us that has defined the modern world.
One hundred years ago this April, it was your intervention in World War I that helped Britain, France, our friends in the Commonwealth and other allies to maintain freedom in Europe.
A little more than 75 years ago, you responded to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour by joining Britain in World War II and defeating fascism not just in the Pacific but in Africa and Europe too.
And later, in the aftermath of these wars, our two countries led the West through the Cold War, confronting communism and ultimately defeating it not just through military might, but by winning the war of ideas. And by proving that open, liberal, democratic societies will always defeat those that are closed, coercive and cruel.
But the leadership provided by our two countries through the special relationship has done more than win wars and overcome adversity. It made the modern world.
The institutions upon which that world relies were so often conceived or inspired by our two nations working together.
The United Nations – in need of reform, but vital still – has its foundations in the special relationship, from the original Declaration of St James’ Palace to the Declaration by United Nations, signed in Washington, and drafted themselves by Winston Churchill and President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The World Bank and International Monetary Fund, born in the post-war world at Bretton Woods, were conceived by our two nations working together.
And NATO – the cornerstone of the West’s defence – was established on the bonds of trust and mutual interests that exist between us.
Some of these organisations are in need of reform and renewal to make them relevant to our needs today. But we should be proud of the role our two nations – working in partnership – played in bringing them into being, and in bringing peace and prosperity to billions of people as a result.
Because it is through our actions over many years, working together to defeat evil or to open up the world, that we have been able to fulfil the promise of those who first spoke of the special nature of the relationship between us. The promise of freedom, liberty and the rights of man.
“We must never cease”, Churchill said, “to proclaim in fearless tones the great principles of freedom and the rights of man which are the joint inheritance of the English-speaking world and which through Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, the Habeas Corpus, trial by jury, and the English common law, find their most famous expression in the American Declaration of Independence”.
So…so it is my honour and privilege to stand before you today in this great city of Philadelphia to proclaim them again, to join hands as we pick up that mantle of leadership once more, to renew our Special Relationship and to recommit ourselves to the responsibility of leadership in the modern world.
And it is my honour and privilege to do so at this time, as dawn breaks on a new era of American renewal.
For I speak to you not just as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, but as a fellow Conservative who believes in the same principles that underpin the agenda of your party. The value of liberty. The dignity of work. The principles of nationhood, family, economic prudence, patriotism – and putting power in the hands of the people.
Principles instilled in me from a young age. Principles my parents taught me in the vicarage in Southern England in which I was raised.
And I know that it is these principles that you have put at the heart of your plan for government.
And your victory in these elections gives you the opportunity to put them at the heart of this new era of American renewal, too.
President Trump’s victory – achieved in defiance of all the pundits and the polls – and rooted not in the corridors of Washington, but in the hopes and aspirations of working men and women across this land. Your party’s victory in both the Congress and the Senate where you swept all before you, secured with great effort, and achieved with an important message of national renewal.
And because of this – because of what you have done together, because of that great victory you have won – America can be stronger, greater, and more confident in the years ahead.
And a newly emboldened, confident America is good for the world.
An America that is strong and prosperous at home is a nation that can lead abroad. But you cannot – and should not – do so alone. You have said that it is time for others to step up. And I agree.
Sovereign countries cannot outsource their security and prosperity to America. And they should not undermine the alliances that keep us strong by failing to step up and play their part.