Hunt MP, Foreign Secretary, speaking today at Conservative Party Conference at
The ICC, Birmingham, said:
afternoon conference and again welcome to Birmingham.
the last six years you’ve heard me speak as Health Secretary, one of the more
demanding jobs in Cabinet.
decided not to let me off the hook by giving me the small matter of Brexit as
Foreign Secretary where I support Dom Raab.
course in the NHS we would have banned all this talk of cakes, cherries
and eating them as contributory factors to obesity…
Brexit I want to talk about today.
we can make it work, how we will make it work – not on a wing and a prayer but
whatever the outcome of the negotiations.
what we need to do now to make that happen.
first let me tell you about my first few moments as Foreign Secretary.
truth is nothing quite prepares you.
walked up the Grand Staircase in the Foreign Office and looked at the pictures
of my distinguished predecessors gazing down from the wall. One
of the recent ones seemed to have forgotten to comb his blond
the time I’d just become the longest serving Health Secretary. I looked up the
shortest serving Foreign Secretary who was not actually John Major but Earl
Temple who in 1783 was there for just four days.
in my first four days I met Angela Merkel, who gave me a wry smile and said
‘congratulations… if that’s the right word.’
had a manly handshake with President Trump.
I soon realised that meeting world leaders abroad is peanuts compared
to the diplomacy needed at home when you call your Chinese wife Japanese.
very lucky to have a brilliant ministerial team so let me introduce the
wise and wily Sir Alan Duncan. The sane and sage Alastair Burt. The diplomatic
and energetic Mark Field. Our principled
defender of human rights Tariq Ahmad; our passionate advocate for Africa
Harriett Baldwin and my brilliant PPS’s James Cartlidge and Vicky Ford.
one of them stands up for British values and British people all over the
one of those British people is Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
with other British citizens, Nazanin has been languishing for no reason in an
Iranian jail for over 2 years – agonisingly separated from her 4
year old daughter Gabriella and husband Richard.
too have a 4 year old daughter and I can’t imagine what
they are going through.
me repeat today to the Iranian government what I told their Foreign Minister
last week: like Nazanin, you too have precious families. So whatever other
disagreements we may have, for the sake of our common humanity it’s time to let
her and the others come home.
predecessors with their portraits on my wall helped shape our country over
this century will be shaped by something much bigger than the decisions made by
any foreign secretary.
will be shaped by a decision made by the British people – on 23 June
easy for others to misunderstand the Brexit vote.
was a decision to leave the European Union.
it was not a decision to pull up the drawbridge. Or recreate the empire. Or
change our fundamental character as a gentle, generous and outward-looking
August I visited a number of EU countries, including Latvia.
laid a wreath at the Latvian Freedom Monument.
I realised that
30 years ago that country was under Soviet occupation.
in a remarkable transformation, Latvia is a modern democracy, part of both NATO
and the EU.
no European country did more to bring about that transformation than
wasn’t us being un-European or anti-communitaire.
nor will Brexit be either.
friends in Europe need to understand that 52% of the country aren’t rabid
populists trying to build Fortress Britain.
fought for peace on our continent so none of us will ever turn our back on
nor, and I want to address our European friends directly now, should you.
the moment you seem to think the way to keep the club together is to punish a
member who leaves.
just with economic disruption. But even by breaking up the United Kingdom with
a border down the Irish Sea.
happened to the confidence and ideals of the European dream? The EU was set up
to protect freedom. It was the Soviet Union that stopped people leaving.
lesson from history is clear: if you turn the EU club into a prison, the desire
to get out won’t diminish it will grow…
won’t be the only prisoner that will want to escape…
you reject the hand of friendship offered by our Prime Minister…
turn your back on the partnership that has given Europe more security, more
freedom and more opportunities than ever in history.
a setback for the EU will become a wholly avoidable tragedy for Europe.
understand the EU wants to protect itself. But if the only way to deal with the
UK leaving is to try to force its break
up, as someone much more distinguished than me once said, the answer is
‘No No No.’
Britain for Brexit is dealing with the symptoms of the problem and not the
cause, which is the failure of political elites across Europe – including
people like me in Britain – to deal with people’s concerns about
is the heart of the problem – and if you’re worried about the EU’s future that
is also the solution.
let me say one more thing about these talks.
mistake British politeness for British weakness.
if you put a country like Britain in a corner, we don’t crumble. We fight.
as your friends of many years we say simply this: Brexit is not about whether
you succeed or we succeed. Europe prospers
when we both succeed and it’s time to change your approach.
the course when the going gets tough. Any student of history knows that’s more
or less a definition of being British.
you do need to know where the course is set.
kind of country we want to be with our new-found independence.
my office there’s a bust of Churchill.
think for a moment about the international order that he created.
democracies, more peace, more trade and more prosperity than ever before in
me give you an example.
I was born in 1966, half of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty –
that’s less than a dollar a day. Now it’s not half it’s just 9% of the people
in the world.
that international order that’s been so successful is starting to fray.
trade losing its lustre. Democracy in retreat. Globalisation a dirty
the same time countries like Russia walk across the borders of Ukraine and
Georgia as if they didn’t exist. Whilst their puppets in Syria use chemical
weapons to poison defenceless children.
we could, of course, leave it to others to deal with these global issues.
have plenty of challenges of our own at home – so we could be forgiven for
that’s not our way.
Britain didn’t just dream up the democratic world order. We shed blood with our
friends and allies to build it. And we will always feel a special
responsibility to defend it.
what we learned the hard way is that you can only do that based on a position
learned it exactly 80 years ago today with an anniversary we would probably
80 years ago today was when Neville Chamberlain returned from Munich with his
infamous piece of white paper.
well-meaning man trying his best – but getting it badly wrong. No Conservative
in this hall would ever repeat that mistake.
in fairness would any Labour Prime Minister we’ve had, one of whom actually set
up NATO in 1949.
there is someone who would make that mistake.
today’s Labour Party is not the party of Attlee and Bevin, two men whose
patriotism earned the life-long respect of Winston Churchill.
Labour party is run by the very extremists they spent their lives
to Jeremy Corbyn NATO was not set up to keep us safe but ‘to provoke a cold
Russia shares his anti-western world-view, he couldn’t even bring himself to
condemn them for the first ever chemical weapons attack on British soil in
Salisbury this year.
people who did this are not comrades. They’re killers.
if you won’t stand up to bullies abroad, if you won’t even stand up to bullies
inside the Labour party…then don’t ever claim you stand up for ordinary people
and you’ll keep us safe because you won’t.
person of course did stand up to Russian bullies.
Prime Minister Theresa May.
to her leadership, 153 Russian diplomats were expelled from 28 countries,
inflicting massive damage on their spy networks – and we’re now going to close
the net on the GRU.
under the Conservatives Britain has a simple message for the Kremlin.
you try to intimidate this country, if you use chemical weapons, if you don’t
play by the international rules, the price will always be too high.
week in New York I had dinner with perhaps the world’s most experienced
diplomat, Dr Henry Kissinger.
Kissinger told me he was asked to write an article supporting ‘remain’ in the
referendum campaign – but he refused.
said America and the world needed an independent British voice and without
Brexit he worried there wouldn’t be one.
an independent voice must be a confident voice.
blind optimism but deep confidence rooted in the history of our nation.
means not overestimating our strengths. But not underestimating them
may have less than 1% of the world’s population.
we have the world’s fifth biggest economy.
third most generous development budget.
second biggest military in NATO.
of the world’s top 10 universities.
Nobel prizes than anywhere in Europe.
world’s financial centre.
the world’s language.
the real reason for our success goes beyond any of these or anything tangible.
because of a few simple ideas that started here, on this small island, and went
on to conquer every corner of the planet.
of those simple British ideas was free trade, a stroke of genius that was
written into life by Adam Smith in Glasgow and exported across the seas by the
British idea was the fragile and beautiful insight that power should pass from
leader to leader not by force, but peacefully through a franchise expressing
the will of the people.
long journey to parliamentary democracy that started with Magna Carta.
of the best-preserved copies of Magna Carta is in the cathedral in Salisbury.
I don’t think that’s why Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, those two famous
tourists, went there on 3 March. Which is a shame because if they had they
could have taught their boss in the Kremlin a lesson or two about the dangers
of absolute power.
British idea came from John Stuart Mill who said “Genius can only breathe
in an atmosphere of freedom.”
how we British have used that freedom.
unlock the secrets of gravity and evolution;
discover penicillin, decode DNA and pioneer the internet.
invent the NHS, which I was so privileged to steward.
why does all this matter? Because it means in a time of change we can rightly
feel confidence about the future of our country.
confidence in our party too.
in challenging times it’s nearly always our party, the Conservative Party, the
British people turn to.
always, in fairness, because they like us. But because they trust us to do the
of the things they’re trusting us to do is to get Brexit right.
trade agreements involve compromise. Both sides limit their freedom of
manoeuvre so both benefit from removing barriers.
important though trade deals are, our future depends far more on other things,
not least our ambition and hunger to succeed.
is why I come back to confidence.
is the time to unite our country behind a big and bold vision of what our new
independence can mean.
our energy into debating what can happen not arguing about what did
remembering as the party of wealth creation that for every job affected by a
new trade deal, 10 jobs will be determined by new technology.
only Conservatives understand that our success will be determined not by our
bureaucrats but by our businesses.
we have a British Google, a British Amazon, a British BMW…
we have not just HS2 up here to Birmingham and beyond but HS3 and
on our phones we have not just 3G or 4G but 5G or 6G…
short whether the party of aspiration can build a country of ambition
that means a post-Brexit world where we look to no one but ourselves for our
turn a simple legal change into a catalyst for transformational change.
we can only unite the country if we are united ourselves.
parliament. In the government. And in the cabinet.
if we are to unite the country, we must deliver not just a true Brexit for the
52% – but also a generous Brexit for the 48%. They are patriots too.
however fierce the debate, however high the passions, never forget that
disunity and division won’t give us a better Brexit but the wrong Brexit, a
Corbyn Brexit or perhaps no Brexit at all.
let’s argue our corners this week in Birmingham.
let’s not carry on the fight after the moment we needed to come together.
in our Great British history the right thing has often happened – but it never
happens by accident.
happens when brave people take smart decisions…
our talents come together…
when we draw on the strengths of our past to chart a route to the future.
essence of Conservatism.
let’s find the common purpose and sense of destiny we need in this great
a party. As a people. And as a nation.
bring others together as we come together ourselves.
once again show the doubters, show the sceptics, show the world the true
potential of this remarkable nation. Thank
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