PM Theresa May’s Press Conference with Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull
10 July 2017
Prime Minister Theresa May:
Good afternoon, everybody.
I am pleased to be hosting Prime Minister Turnbull – whom I have known for many years – on his first visit to Downing Street.
This morning, we visited the site of last month’s brutal terror attack at Borough Market, where eight people tragically lost their lives, among them two Australians.
We paid tribute to the professionalism and bravery of the police and emergency services who undoubtedly prevented further loss of life, and the heroism of local business owners who shielded people from the terrorists.
I am deeply grateful to Prime Minister Turnbull and the Australian people for the solidarity and support they have shown the UK. At times such as this, we are reminded of the importance of the strong ties that have bound our two nations together for over a hundred years.
And we will continue to stand together as close allies and firm friends against those who want to destroy our precious values and our way of life.
As the UK leaves the EU and forges a new role in the world, I am clear we should take the opportunity to strengthen our close partnership with Australia.
So today, we have talked about how we can step up our cooperation in a range of areas, including security and defence, trade and investment, and on the world stage.
And let me take each of these in turn.
For over a century, our soldiers have served together to preserve the fundamental values of freedom and democracy that we share. They stood shoulder to shoulder in two World Wars, in Iraq and in Afghanistan.
And this month, as we commemorate a hundred years since the Battle of Passchendaele, we again remember their service and their sacrifice.
Today, we are leading partners in the Counter-Daesh Coalition, and as the fight moves from the battlefield to the internet, we will work together to tackle the spread of Daesh’s hateful ideology online.
We have also discussed how we can address the challenge of end-to-end encryption which creates a safe haven for terrorists to communicate.
Alongside this, our national cyber security centres cooperate closely to crack down on malicious cyber activity. Our law enforcement agencies work together to tackle serious and organised crime – particularly the illegal financial flows that fund criminal gangs and terrorists.
And our intelligence-sharing partnership under the Five Eyes alliance is central to our efforts to address the shared threats we face.
Later this month, our Defence and Foreign Ministers will meet in Sydney for their annual ministerial dialogue, to look at how we can deepen our security and defence cooperation to protect our shared interests and project our values around the world.
The UK and Australia are major trading partners and investors in each other’s economic success. Our strong and growing trade relationship is worth close to £14 billion.
We have both made clear our intention to continue to deepen our trade and investment relationship as the UK leaves the EU.
Our Brexit negotiations have started well. And I made clear to Prime Minister Turnbull that an ambitious and comprehensive bilateral trade deal with Australia remains a priority for the UK.
Australia was the first country with whom the UK established a Trade Working Group following the vote to leave the EU, and we are keeping up a regular and productive dialogue on the future of our free trading relationship.
We will continue to work together to push for greater global trade liberalisation and reform.
And I’m pleased to confirm that International Trade Secretary Liam Fox intends to travel to Australia in the coming months as part of these ongoing talks, and ahead of a further meeting of the Working Group later this year.
The UK and Australia remain close partners on the international stage. We work alongside each other through the Commonwealth, United Nations and G20 to address the shared global challenges we face.
Last week’s missile test in North Korea showed yet again the danger the regime poses to our friends and allies. We are united in our condemnation of their continued nuclear weapons and ballistic missile tests, which are in flagrant breach of the UN Security Council resolutions.
And at the G20, the Prime Minister and I discussed with our partners how we can step up international efforts to increase pressure on Pyongyang, and find a peaceful solution to the ongoing threat North Korea poses to global security.
Australia and Britain are also proud members of the Commonwealth, and its unique, vibrant and diverse alliance of nations. And I am delighted that the UK will host the 2018 Commonwealth Summit in London and Windsor next April, just after the Commonwealth Games take place on the Gold Coast.
And the Prime Minister and I are united in our commitment to work together to support the renewal of the Commonwealth. We agreed that the Summit offers a platform to re-energise and revitalise the network, to cement its relevance to this and future generations.
So thank you, Prime Minister, thank you, Malcolm, for visiting us today, and for the excellent discussions we have had.
It’s always a pleasure to welcome our Australian friends to London, and even more so when we have just beaten them at cricket. That’s women’s cricket, of course.
But the ties between our countries have endured for generations, and I look forward to working closely with you to strengthen those bonds in the years ahead. Thank you, Malcolm.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull:
Well, thank you very much, Theresa. We’re not really debating today, but the last time we debated was at the Oxford Union. Theresa Brasier and Malcolm Turnbull were both on the notice paper and the President was Philip May. So now, all we need is President May here to oversee the debate.
So look, Theresa, it’s wonderful to be here.
You know, Australians feel at home in the United Kingdom and Britons feel at home in Australia. Most Australians have some of their ancestry at least from the United Kingdom and there’re five per cent of Australians actually born in the United Kingdom.
The culture, the laws, the traditions of Britain were brought to Australia with the European settlement, British settlement that were brought as part of the heritage of the men and women, including my forebears, that founded what we know today as modern Australia – the most successful multicultural society in the world.
Built on the foundations of the most ancient human civilizations and cultures in the world, the first Australians. But also built on a foundation of British history, of British law, of a British conception of democracy and Parliamentary democracy in particular.
So when your institutions are attacked, we feel that ours are, too. When Britain is attacked by terrorism, we feel we are attacked as well.
The attack on Westminster Bridge, the assault, cruel assault on young children in the Manchester Arena, the attack at London Bridge and the Borough Market, these were felt by the Australian people as keenly as the attacks we have suffered at home in Australia. We stand shoulder to shoulder now as we always have in freedom’s cause today, defying and defeating the Islamist terrorists that seek to do us harm, that seek to destroy our way of life and prevent us from living our way of life, living as we always have.
Now, down at London Bridge and the Borough Market, we were there today and we thanked the first responders. We thanked the police – unarmed police in the first instance – that rushed to the aid of the people that had been injured, including two officers who performed CPR on one of the two Australian women that were killed, Sara Zelenak.
We saw where Kirsty Boden, a brave Australian nurse, rushed out into a harm’s way to help those who had been injured. Who heard there was an accident and, being a nurse, rushed out to help. We saw where she was killed.
And we thank those police, and we thank the ambulance workers, we thank the National Health Service workers, we thank them for their extraordinary service.
And Prime Minister, Theresa, I should say, we were so proud, I was so proud to be with you and Cressida Dick, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and thank her for the extraordinary, rapid, effective, decisive action by the tactical response crew who got to the scene within eight minutes and killed the terrorists before they could do even more harm than they did.
So whether it is here, help cooperating on intelligence – and we had a very good meeting earlier today with Cressida Dick and of course with your Joint Intelligence Committee in your COBR briefing room – our cooperation is very intense and that is because it is built on trust. There are no two nations in the world that trust each other more than the United Kingdom and Australia.
We are family in a historical sense. We’re family in a genetic sense. But we are so close and that trust is getting stronger all the time.
It is vital to defeat terrorism at home, in the Middle East, right around the world. We’ve talked today about the activities of Daesh or ISIL in the Philippines. This is a global threat and we cooperate and collaborate everywhere. Intelligence is absolutely the key. Now, we’ve touched on, Theresa, cybersecurity and this was a big topic as we know at the G20, where we worked together to ensure that we had a strong communiqué after G20 on counter-terrorism and the need for more cooperation. And indeed, the need to ensure that the rule of law prevails online just as it does offline.
We cannot allow the internet to be used a means to create dark places where terrorists cannot be found.
And so the leaders of the 20 largest economies agreed there, and Theresa and I made this case very strongly to our colleagues, agreed there that we are calling on those big internet companies not simply to assist in taking down poisonous propaganda from the internet but also to ensure that lawful rights of access to information needed to keep our people secure are able to be enforced online just as they are offline. This is vitally important.
We talked about the very dangerous situation on the Korean Peninsula, and Theresa and I are both of one mind on this. The North Korean regime must stop its dangerous and reckless conduct, it’s escalating dangerous conduct, and we’ve called on all the parties to do more, but in particular China, which has the greatest leverage, and hence the greatest ability to bring that reckless regime to its senses.
We’ve talked about the economic challenges we face and we recognise that as Britain moves to completing its exit from the European Union, we stand ready to enter into a free trade agreement with the United Kingdom as soon as the UK is able to do so.
So once that Brexit has been achieved, then we look forward to speedily concluding a free trade agreement with Australia and as you said, I think we were the first on the phone to offer our support and assistance in that regard.
At the same time, I should say we are looking forward to the early conclusion of a free trade agreement with the European Union.
My Government’s position is very simply this, economic prosperity has been demonstrated to be delivered by free trade and open markets. That is one of the major reasons Australia has had 26 years of uninterrupted economic growth.
And so we will seek to open up every door to every market that we can.
Whatever our differences may be on particular sporting contests or another, or our determination to triumph and regain the ashes, can I say that we believe that the bigger and wider the field that Australians can run onto, the more success they will have.
And I know that you share that vision for Britain. Your vision for Britain, a post-Brexit Britain, is one filled with optimism, it’s not a council of despair as some people have said. I know, Theresa, that you believe passionately that the British people can do anything, can achieve anything, and that your post-Brexit Britain will be a Britain with big horizons, big opportunities, free trade, open markets. You’re right, that is the future. That is where our prosperity has been delivered and I know that is where your prosperity in the future will come.
So thank you very much for your hospitality. We’re inspired by some of your reforms – and particularly your reduction in company tax. You’re already at 19 per cent, you said, and heading to 17. We’ve made some progress in that direction, but we’ve got a way to catch up.
And finally, can I say that it was a very kind thought for you to invite the Australian chef, 30-year resident of London, Skye Gyngell to cook us lunch. Skye’s father Bruce Gyngell, as all the Australians here know, was a great television executive. In fact, he was the first face on Australian television, in a tiny little studio in Sydney, when it began in 1956.
And Bruce was a great mentor of mine, a really, really good friend, a very dear friend. And he always used to say to me when I was a kid, he said “Malcolm, one day, you’ll be Prime Minister,” and the idea that as Prime Minister I’m your guest at lunch here at Number 10, and his daughter has cooked us the lunch, is very, very special. So thank you for that, too.