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British Prime Minister Theresa May Speech to GOP Lawmakers. Aired 3:30-4p ET
Aired January 26, 2017 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Welcome back. You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin, live pictures from Philadelphia.
We are waiting for the closest ally to the United States Prime Minister Theresa May. She will be -- from Britain. She will be speaking here at the annual house Republican retreat in Philadelphia. She is the first (INAUDIBLE), she is the first foreign leader to meet with President Trump upon his taking office and the first serving foreign leader to speak at this conference. But a friendly two-day visit comes with tough questions for the prime minister who has already been confronted on the UK's to some of the core policies shared between these two countries namely on the use of torture and climate change.
So I have Christiane Amanpour here with me, a CNN chief international correspondent and anchor of the network's Flagship global affairs program,"AMANPOUR."
It is so nice to see you.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good to see you, Brooke?
BALDWIN: Let's just talk about -- what do you expect? What will her message be?
AMANPOUR: Well, this was going to be a wonderful visit for Theresa May, basking in the glory being the first foreign leader to meet the new president. And she was obviously coming here to try to get this promise of a quick free trade deal between the UK and the U.S., she hope that was strengthen our hand going into this Brexit negotiations. So that was clearly her major aim. It would really burnish her credentials as she faces, you know, parliament and Europeans.
However, as we have been talking all day, her visit is very much overshadowed by what's just happened between the United States and it done a closest neighbor, Mexico, and the crisis over the council visit and the wall and who is going to pay for it and all the rest of it. Plus, she is going to have to on behalf of her own country, her own parliamentarians who put her on notice, challenge or advice the president not to bring back torture, not to bring back black sites and all the things he has been saying and tweeting over the last 24 hours are suddenly going to be things that she is going to have to deal with as well. But obviously, the special relationship will get a very good, you know, boost from this meeting. BALDWIN: What had President Obama has said to her?
AMANPOUR: Well, look. According to the reporting that he had talked to her several times in the last few, you know, months they actually meeting today unattended and asked her to you know really use that position as the prime minister as the closest trans-Atlantic ally to try to temper Donald Trump, who is obviously a foreign policy neophyte. He has never done this before. And because of his, you know, words about NATO, about supporting the breakup, the further breakup of the EU, and also --.
BALDWIN: All of the conversation with Nigel Farage, UK, all of that.
AMANPOUR: Right. And Nigel Farage is not somebody who sort of, well, in the British government, and this by Theresa May, and certainly not by the outgoing Obama administration And they want to try to, you know, make sure that there is a fellow adult at the table to be able to, you know, help the new president along in matters that are very important between the United States, Britain, Europe and other wide alliances that they have.
BALDWIN: How does she, though, also acknowledge when they hold that joint news conference and we hang on his every word and her every word which she also realizing some of criticism coming from her own party with regards to what some of his recent words, what could we expect for her to say?
AMANPOUR: Well, I think we are going to see very, you know, typical Theresa May. She is very, you know, firm. She is quite robust. I mean, she has a way of talking that, you know, she is not easily swayed. And she will say, she said in parliament, if people asked her about the torture thing, for instance, she will say we, the United Kingdom do not believe in any kind of inhumane treatment and illegal treatment such as this. And she will very clearly state that she has no choice, it's the law, it is what they believe over there. And to be very frank, people are hoping that maybe she will help him walk some of that back.
BALDWIN: Do they?
AMANPOUR: Yes, because why not? It's a world leader who is going to be meeting with a new U.S. president. She has a welcome experienced. She was home secretary for six years, which means she was in charge of, you know, the whole terrorism thing came under her department, security, law and order, immigration, all of that kind of stuff, she has actually been there in the trenches of that for the last six years. And so, she has, you know, the substance on that.
Plus, it will be very, very difficult for Britain or its allies to do business with the United States if the U.S. goes into extra illegal maneuvers such as black sites such torture and the rest. It was already an issue under President George W. Bush and it threatens to become an issue if this persists.
BALDWIN: OK. She is speaking any moment now. Of course, we are going to join the news conference when she meet with him at the White House tomorrow.
Christiane, thank you very much.
AMANPOUR: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Again, any moment, the British Prime Minister Theresa May will be speaking there in Philadelphia and have the big meeting in Washington tomorrow. We are going to take it live as soon as we see her.
You are watching CNN.
[15:38:18] BALDWIN: All right, breaking news. Here she is, the prime minister of Britain Theresa May.
THERESA MAY, BRITAIN PRIME MINISTER: Well, thank you 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 honor indeed.
I defy any person who 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 hole 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 history of political thought.
MAY: 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 bare 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.
[15:40:51] MAY: 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 innovation in the First World War that help Britain, France, France in the commonwealth and other allies to maintain freedom in Europe.
MAY: A little more than 75 years ago you responded to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor by joining Britain this the Second World War and defeating fascism not just in the pacific but in Africa and in Europe too.
MAY: 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.
MAY: 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 was so often conceived or inspired was 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 Saint James' palace to the declaration by Unites 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 port war world of wrecking woods will conceive by our two nations working together.
And NATO, the cornerstone of the west's defense was established on the bonds of trust and mutual interests that exist between us. Some of these organizations are in need of reform and renewal to make them relevant to your 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.
MAY: 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 fulfill 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 principals of freedoms and to the rights of man which are the joint inheritance of the English speaking world and which through Magna Carta, the bill of rights, habeas corpus, trial by jury and the English common law find their most famous expression in the American declaration of independence.
MAY: So it is my honor 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 honor 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 under pin the agenda of your party, the value of liberty, the dignity of work, the principals 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 the vicarage in Southern England in which I was raised. And I know it was these principles that you have put at the heart of your government. And your victory at these elections gives you the opportunity to put them at the heart of this new era of American renewal too.
President Trump's victory achieve in defiance of all the pundits in 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 sweat 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.
MAY: And a newly emboldened confident America is good for the world. An America 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.
MAY: This is something Britain has always understood, it's why Britain is the only country in the G20 other than yours to meet its commitment to spend two percent of GDP on defense and to invest 20 percent of that in upgrading equipment.
MAY: It is why Great Britain in the only country in the G20 to spend 0.70 percent of gross national income on overseas development. It is why my first act as prime minister last year was lead the debate in parliament that ensured the renewal that Britain's independent nuclear deterrent. And it is why the government I lead will increase spending on defense every year in this parliament.
MAY: It is why Britain is a leading member alongside the United States of the coalition working successfully to defeat Daesh. Why we have agreed to send 800 troops to Estonia and Poland as part of NATO's forward presence in Eastern Europe. While they are increase in our troop contribution to NATO's resolute support mission that defends the Afghan government from terrorism. And it is why we are reinforcing our commitment to peacekeeping operations in Kosovo, South Sudan and Somalia. And it is why Britain is leading the way in pioneering international efforts to crack down on modern slavery, one of the great scourges our country has ever found.
MAY: And I hope you will join us in that cause and I commend Senator Corker in particular for his work in this field and it is good to have met him here today.
As Americans know, the United Kingdom is by instinct and history, a great global nation that recognizes its responsibilities to the world. And as we end our membership of the European Union, as the British people voted with determination and quiet resolve to do last year, we have the opportunity to reassert our belief in a confident sovereign and global Britain ready to build relationships with old friends and new allies alike.
We will build a new partnership with our friends in Europe. We are not turning our back on them or on the interests and the values that we share. It remains overwhelmingly in our interests and in those of the wider world that the EU should succeed. And for as long as we remain members, we will continue to play our full part just as we will continue to cooperate on security, foreign policy and trade once we have left.
But we have chosen a different future for our country. A future that sees us restore our parliamentary sovereignty and to national self- determination and to become even more global --.
MAY: And to become even more global and internationalist in action and in spirit. A future that sees us take back control of the things that matter to us. Things like our national borders and immigration policy and the way we decide and interpret our own laws. So that we are able to shape a better, more prosperous future for the working men and women of Britain. A future that sees us step up with confidence, to a new even more internationalist role where we meet our responsibilities to our friends and allies, champion the international cooperation and partnerships that project our values around the world. And continue to act as one of the strongest and most forceful advocates for business, free markets, and free trade anywhere around the globe. This is a vision of a future that my country can unite around. And that I hope your country as our closest friend and ally can welcome and support.
So, as we rediscover our confidence together, as you renew your nation just as we renew ours, we have the opportunity, indeed the responsibility, to renew the special relationship for this new age. We have the opportunity to lead together again, because the world is parsing through a period of change. And in response to that change, we can either be passive bystanders or
we can take the opportunity once more to lead and to lead together. I believe it is in our national interest to do so, because the world is increasingly marked by instability and threats that risk undermining our way of life, and the very things that we hold dear.
The end of the cold war did not give rise to a new world order. It did not herald the end of history. It did not lead to a new age of peace, prosperity and predictability in world affairs. For some, the citizens of central and Eastern Europe in particular, it brought new freedom. But across the world, ancient ethnic religious and national rivalries, rivalries that had been frozen through the decades of the cold war returned. New enemies of the west and our values, in particular in the form of radical Islamists, have emerged.
[15:53:42] MAY: And countries with little tradition of democracy, liberty and human rights, notably China and Russia, have grown more assertive in world affairs.
The rise of the Asian economies, China yes, but democratic allies like India, too, is hugely welcome. Billions are being lifted out of poverty and new markets for industries are opening up. But these events, coming as they have at the same time as the financial crisis and its fall out, as well as a loss of confidence in the west following 9/11 and difficult military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, have led many to fear that in this century we will experience the eclipse of the west.
But there is nothing inevitable about that. Other countries may grow stronger. Big populist countries may grow richer. And as they do so, they may start to embrace more fully our values of democracy and liberty.
But even if they do not, our interests will remain. Our values will endure. And the need to defend them and project them will be as important as ever. So, we, our two countries together, have a responsibility to lead, because when others step up as we step back, it is bad for America, for Britain and the world.
[15:55:22] MAY: it is in our interests, those of Britain and America together, to stand strong together, to defend our values, our interests, and the very ideas in which we believe.
This cannot mean a return to the failed policies of the past. The days of Britain and America intervening in sovereign countries in an attempt to remake the world in our own image are over. But nor can we afford to stand idly by when the threat is real and when it is in our own interests to intervene. We must be strong, smart, and hard headed, and we must demonstrate the resolve necessary to stand up for our interests.
And whether it is the security of Israel in the Middle East or the ball tick states in eastern Europe, we must always stand up for our friends and allies in democratic countries that find themselves in tough neighborhoods, too.
MAY: We each have different political traditions. We will sometimes pursue different domestic policies and there may be occasions on which we disagree. But the common values and interests that bring us together are hugely powerful. And as your foremost friend and ally, we support many of the priorities your government has laid out, America's engagement with the world. It is why I join you in your determination to take on and defeat Daesh and the ideology of Islamist extremism that inspires them and many other terrorist groups in the world today. It is in both our national interests to do so. This will require us to use the intelligence provided by the finest security agencies in the world, and it will require the use of military might. But it also demands a wider effort, because one of the lessons of fighting terrorism in the last 15 years or so is, yes, killing terrorists can save innocent lives, but until we kill the idea that drives them, the ideology, we will always have to live with this threat. And as --
MAY: As they are defeated on the ground, the terrorists are exploiting the internet and social media to spread this ideology that is preying on vulnerable citizens in our own countries, inspiring them to commit acts of terror in our own cities. That is why the UK has led the world in developing a strategy for preventing violent extremism and why the British and American governments are working together to take on and defeat the ideology of Islamist extremism.
I look forward to working with the president and his administration to step up our efforts still further in order to defeat this evil ideology. But, of course, we should always be careful to distinguish between this extreme and hateful ideology and the peaceful religion of Islam and the hundreds of millions of its adherents including millions of our own country, and to those further afield who are so often the first victims of this ideology's terror. And nor is it enough merely to focus on violent extremism.
We need to address the whole spectrum of extremism, starting with the bigotry and hatred that can so often turn to violence. Yet ultimately to defeat Daesh, we must employ all of the diplomatic means at our disposal. That means working internationally to secure a political solution in Syria and challenging the alliance between the Syrian regime and its backers in Tehran.
When it comes to Russia, as so often it is wise to turn to the example of President Reagan who during his negotiations with his opposite member Mikhail Gorbachev used to abide by the adage trust but verify.
BALDWIN: You have been listening to British PM Theresa May there speaking at the Republican retreat in Philadelphia.
I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me. We are going to send it to Washington where special coverage will continue right now with Jake Tapper.