David Cameron – 2013 Q&A at Thales UK


Below is the text of the Q&A session at Thales UK with the Prime Minister, David Cameron, on 4th April 2013 in Govan, Scotland.

Thank you very much for that welcome; it’s great to be here at Thales and a very happy 125th birthday. Earlier today I was winched from a helicopter onto HMS Victorious, one of our Trident nuclear submarines, and one of the things I did on that submarine was look through the incredible periscope made, of course, by Thales to scan the horizon and to look to see what was around. And it was an incredible piece of equipment and a signal of the brilliance of this company and this organisation.

Now, this is an opportunity for you to ask questions and for me to try and answer them, but let me just kick off with perhaps two of the biggest questions that we’ve got to decide as a country over the coming years, and the first one relates to the issue I’ve just spoken of. We have an independent nuclear deterrent in our country – the Trident submarines – and soon we’re going to have to make the decision about whether to replace that on a proper like-for-like basis, and I strongly believe that we should replace it on a like-for-like basis.

Why? Well, because the world we live in is very uncertain, very dangerous; there are nuclear states, and one cannot be sure of how they will develop. We cannot be sure on the issues of nuclear proliferation and to me having that nuclear deterrent is quite simply the best insurance policy that you can have that you will never be subject to nuclear blackmail. So I think that we should make that big decision and I hope that that is something that will be based right here in Scotland.

And that leads me to the second big question that we’re going to have to answer as a country in the next couple of years – in 2014, to be precise – and that is whether to stay together as a United Kingdom, or whether Scotland wants to go its separate way. Now obviously that is a matter for Scottish voters – you will be the ones who decide – but I very much hope the decision will be to keep the United Kingdom together.

And the way I’d put it is this: there are arguments of the heart, but there are also arguments of the head, and I believe the case for the United Kingdom can win on both the arguments of the heart and the arguments of the head. The Scottish nationalists may believe that they have the advantage when it comes to the heart –Braveheart, and all of that – I actually believe we should be very proud of what the United Kingdom has achieved together: the fact that we together have defeated fascism, that we built the National Health Service, that we produced the BBC, that we produced so many great works of art, architecture, literature, so many great businesses, so much great inventing. We should be proud of those things, but I think the arguments of the head – when we look at issues like jobs, like finance, like stability, I think the arguments of the head are even stronger in the direction of maintaining the United Kingdom.

And perhaps defence jobs are a case in point. Over 12,000 people employed in Scotland in defence industries, defence industries that are backed by the whole of the United Kingdom and backed by the United Kingdom with a defence budget which is the fourth largest in the world. And even after the difficult decisions that this government has had to make about defence spending, we’ll still be the fourth largest defence budget in the world.

So those are the arguments you’re going to have to take on and think about in these months ahead before the referendum in 2014, but those are two big decisions we have to take as a country, two big questions we have to answer. I know what my answers are, but this is all about your questions, so who wants to go first?


What does the UK need to do to become more competitive in the international markets? We were trying to export more and more.


Well it’s certainly something we need to do. As your Director put it, I would say exactly the same: we are in a global race. We’re in a race not just with countries in the European Union, but we’re in a race with the emerging countries of the South and East of our world – the Malaysias, the Indonesias, the Chinas, the Indias. And in a way the question is not what do we have to do, but how many things do we have to do?

And I think it starts with people. We need to make sure we are producing bright graduates, we’ve got to invest in education, we’ve got to invest in apprenticeships, we’ve got to upskill all our people. But we’ve also got to think of all the things the government has to do. We’ve got to keep our tax rates down so businesses want to locate and grow here, and that’s why in the budget we cut the rate of Corporation Tax down to 20%. We’ve got to make sure our markets are open. So we’ve got to remain, I believe, members of the European Union. I’d like to reform it, but I think it’s important that we have those key markets open.

There are so many things that we have to do. We have to play to our strengths, and I think defence is one of our strengths. And I think it means you need a very active government that’s prepared to get out there and promote British products and British businesses in the key markets, and that is something I’ve done. I was just saying to your Managing Director, I’ve led a trade mission to each one of the G20 countries apart from Argentina, that’s not yet on my list but I’ve done all the other G20 countries and I’m very proud to have taken Thales on some of those trade missions and to promote the goods and the services that you create.

So I think it’s a massive agenda. It’s about getting on top of welfare, it’s about training our people, improving education, keeping our tax rates down, making sure we’re out there trying to sell in the key markets, and I think it means being more aggressive about that. I think sometimes in the UK we’ve sat back and thought, well we’ve got great technology, we’ve got great people, we’ve got great businesses. No one owes us a living anymore and we have to get out there and sell very hard. And that’s what this government is doing.

We also have to get control of our deficit and our debts, and that links to the difficult decisions that this government has had to make. You won’t survive as a country if you are carrying the huge deficits that we are currently, and that’s why we need to reduce them.


Prime Minister, research and development is an environment for Thales and Thales have striven to be at the front of that over the years. What is this government going to do to ensure that an environment is created for research and development to grow and flourish for companies like Thales?


Well, there are some things that we have done in the short-term which I think can make a difference. Companies have said to us that they like the research and development tax credits, and so we have extended those tax credits. We’ve made them more generous. We’ve specifically made them more generous for small firms. So there are things we can do with the tax system to try and encourage research and development.

But in a way I think the real answer goes all the way back into the classroom and we’ve got to make sure that we are teaching our young people the single sciences. We’ve got to have quality curriculums. We’ve got to make sure that more children study maths, science and technology subjects, and then we’ve got to make sure our universities are well-funded. Now, obviously this is a devolved issue; this is an issue for Scotland to make its own decisions. In England we’ve made the decision to charge quite substantial fees to students and then have those students pay those fees back through a system of loans. And I would argue that is absolutely vital for the future industrial strength of the United Kingdom.

Because as I’ve said, and I’m boringly repetitive about this, we are in a global race; we’re in a global race with universities right across the world. And we’ve got to make sure our universities are well-funded, are financially stable, can take on the best and the brightest graduates, can train them, because they’re going to be the researchers and the technologists of the future.

And in order, I think, in a modern market economy to have well-funded universities frankly there’s only two places the money can come from: it can come from the government, and the government is taking it from the tax­payer, and the tax-payer’s got a lot of claims on their funds – they’ve got to fund the Health Service and pensions and everything else – or you can ask the students, the successful students, to contribute to the cost of that education. And that’s what we’re doing in England. Scots make their own decisions about these things, but I think if we want really good research and development in the future we need well-funded universities, and I think it’s right then to ask students to make that contribution.


Prime Minister, there’s been a lot in the newspapers about further government departmental spending cuts, will this have an impact on defence?


Very good question. First of all, what have we done with defence so far? This government got in in 2010 and we inherited a budget deficit which was bigger than Greece’s, 11% of our GDP. We simply had to make difficult decisions both on spending and on taxation. And the decision we made with defence was not to cut the budget in cash terms but effectively to freeze it. The defence budget is around £33 billion and it’s going to be that all the way through this parliament to 2015. Within that, we’ve said that we need to protect the equipment budget and we do need to make sure that equipment budget is properly funded and we’ve set out how we’re going to do that. But defence can’t be exempt altogether from difficult decisions.

But what I would say is, look at what we’re getting out of what we’re putting in. So it’s frozen at £33 billion, that’s the fourth biggest defence budget in the world. Yes, we’ve had to make difficult decisions in terms of reducing the size of the army, the navy and the air force, but when you stop and think about the future equipment programmes that our services are going to have, I think we can be really proud of what we’re getting in this country.

Take the navy, I’ve just come off one of their submarines. The navy is soon going to have two brand new aircraft carriers. It’s got the Type 45 destroyers, it’ll have the future combat ship, the new frigate, it’s going to have seven hunter killer submarines and of course, if I get my way, the Trident replacement. Now that, on any account, is a pretty substantial navy.

Take the RAF. They’ve got the Typhoons stationed here in Scotland. They’re going to have the Joint Strike Fighters. We’ve got the new Voyager air to air refuelling aircraft. We’ve got the A400M coming on-stream, the modern transport plane. That’s pretty effective.

And for our military, for our soldiers, for our army, I was out in Afghanistan recently, and when you ask our troops in Afghanistan – and I’ve been going every year since 2006 – when you ask, you know, ‘Which bit of kit that others have got that you’d like to have?’ Right now the answer comes back from most of them, I’d say almost all of them, ‘We’ve got really pretty much the best kit in the world.’ And that is particularly true when it comes to protective vehicles. And I know in a minute or two I’m going to pull something, I hope, and open something – or push something, push something, to celebrate what you do at Thales in terms of protective vehicles.

So putting in £33 billion, not immune from difficult decisions. Protection put in place for the equipment budget, but I would prefer to look at what we’re getting out of what we put in. And I think we can look our armed forces in the eye and be pretty proud of what we’re going to deliver.

There’s one other thing I need your help with, though, which is of course we’re reducing the size of the army down to 82,000 but we’re actually expanding the size of the Territorial Army, expanding the size of the reserves. And that’s going to mean a big culture change for our armed forces, but also a big culture change for business. And I really hope business will encourage people to take part in the reserves, and will actually make sure that – and we will lead as an employer in government, that it’s sustainable and feasible to do that. Other countries have larger ratios of reserves to regular forces, and we should do the same.


Prime Minister, you mentioned apprentices. We have a number of apprentices here, and we’re about to start our new intake over the next couple of months. Could you describe what this government is doing to help companies like ourselves take on new apprentices?


Well of course this is a devolved matter, so the funding and organisation of apprentices in Scotland is done by the Scottish government. Certainly in England we have put a lot of extra resources into it, put a lot of extra effort into it, because we’ve got a very simple and clear vision, which is that as people go through school and as they leave school, we want to achieve what I call the new norm which is that you either go to university or you become an apprentice, and we really end the practice of people leaving school at 16 or 18 and just sort of drifting either into unemployment or into a low-skilled job.

Really we should be aiming high, and aiming for everyone to have that choice. And within that choice, I think we’ve got to be clear that the quality of apprenticeships needs to keep being improved. And we’ve put a particular amount of money into higher level apprenticeships, really the absolute equivalent in every way to a degree. And also, I think we’ve got to make sure that people can see an apprenticeship is a route to getting a degree. If we look at one of your competitors, Rolls Royce, half the Board of Rolls Royce are ex-apprentices: people that became apprentices, who went on and did a degree, they learnt and earnt the same time.

And I think we haven’t explained in our schools properly that pathway that is available to young people. Perhaps it’s done better in Scotland. Certainly in England, you talk to young people coming out of school or even going to university and say, ‘Were the options really laid out for you?’ So again, I think we need to get back into the schools and make sure that people are having the real choices put before them. But we need companies like yours to invest in apprenticeships so that people can achieve those goals.


Prime Minister, exports are critical to the Thales site here in Glasgow. What assistance can the government give us in winning more export orders?


Right. Well, what assistance? There are some concrete and practical things we can do. We’ve shaken up the Export Credit Guarantee Department (ECGD) and tried to develop some new products to help companies like yours export. So we give direct financial support. I think that is one thing we can do that physically helps. I think also trying to make sure that our banking system properly gets back on its feet is vital for export success.

I think we need to make sure we’re fully engaged in all the key markets. Some people think it’s a bit old-fashioned: Prime Ministers loading up airplanes with business people and flying off to different countries, I don’t think it’s old-fashioned at all. I think it is a great big competition out there, and I think that, you know, Britain needs to put its best foot forward and make sure that we are showcasing our best companies, our best technologies, particularly in these fast-growing markets. And I think if you look at the development of India, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brazil, they are going to become massive customers of some of the things that we are very good at making here. So we should really have that very active export policy.

I also think it links to actually the first two questions I raised about, do we want to keep the United Kingdom together and are we going to be a front ranked player in terms of defence and nuclear deterrents? And I would argue answering positively to both those questions actually is part of making a big statement about Britain’s role in the world. Britain still is a front ranked power with the fourth largest defence budget. Think of all the networks we belong to. We’re members of the Commonwealth, we’re leading members of NATO, we’re members of the European Union. All these networks are really important in making sure Britain has proper standing in the world, counts for something in the world, and is able to trade effectively in the world.

And I’ll add something into that, which is a bit more controversial, which is that this year we’re achieving a promise that lots of politicians have made, but this government is keeping it, which is to reach 0.7% of our gross national income in terms of our aid budget. Now our aid budget, let me be absolutely clear, is about helping the poorest people and the poorest countries in the world, but it’s also an important point about what Britain stands for in the world.

We’re not in retreat from the world; we are actually a country that is a member of all these different networks I mentioned – significant defence budget, but also a big player in terms of aid and overseas development. And that aid and overseas development, of course we don’t – as used to happen in the past – tie it to trade; we don’t do that, and we’re not proposing to do that, but the fact that Britain is a generous country engaged in the world means that I think we are higher up people’s list of countries that they want to do business with, and if you look at the continent, for instance, of Africa – some of the fastest growing countries in the whole world at the moment are in Africa – and I think it’s right that we have that sort of standing and that sort of relationship with those sorts of countries. So, all those things we do can help us be successful exporters, and we need to be.


How concerned are you about North Korea?


How concerned am I about North Korea? Well, I mean, very concerned. It has extremely dangerous technologies, in terms of nuclear and its weapons. It has a new and relatively unknown leader, and obviously the noises it’s been making in recent weeks and months are worrying and threatening. What matters is that North Korea should abide by all the United Nations resolutions, which have been laid down. We do need to make sure that this whole situation, that the heat is taken out of it. But it is principally North Korea that – almost entirely North Korea that is able to do that and ought to do that.

But I think it’s a good moment to stand back and ask ourselves about the dangers there are in the world and the need to maintain strong defences. I mean, the fact is, as I wrote in a newspaper article this morning, North Korea does now have missile technology that is able to reach, as they put it, the whole of the United States. So, if they are able to reach the whole of the United States, they can reach Europe too. They can reach us too. So, that is a real concern.

And I think the question we need to ask ourselves in the context of this debate about the nuclear deterrent is what will a country like North Korea be like in ten years, 15 years, 20 years? How certain can we be? How certain can we be that its weapons will be secure? How certain can we be that they won’t share weapons and technology with other countries? We can’t be sure of those things, and that is why I think it’s so important to maintain strong defences, to maintain our nuclear deterrent, to maintain that insurance policy against the risks that there are in our world, and North Korea is a good example of that.


Prime Minister, during Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidency, you engaged in a joint procurement initiative in defence. Do you have the same relationship with Francois Hollande, and do you believe that Britain should be more involved in the European Union?


Right. Well, I have a different relationship with Francois Hollande, but it is a good relationship. I’m going to see him on Monday night actually. I’m going to have a working dinner with him when we’ll talk about all sorts of things, including in particular the development of the European Union. We’ll talk about the situation in Syria, but we’ll also talk about Anglo-French defence cooperation. And I remain totally committed to that for some very good, practical, hard-headed reasons.

If you look at Britain and you look at France, we are similar sized countries. We have similar sized defence forces. We see ourselves playing similar sorts of roles in the world, and I think it’s been a missed opportunity that we haven’t been cooperating much more. And so I sat down with Nicolas Sarkozy, and went through all of the areas where I thought we could collaborate. And instead of, sort of, starting with the easiest and working up to the most difficult, we decided to start right at the top – the most difficult – in looking at some of the nuclear collaboration that Britain and France could do, and we are doing that. That work is going ahead.

And when Francois Hollande was elected, I immediately discussed with him, and he said to me he wanted to keep going with this collaboration. Because I think it is totally in both our interests. If we want to maximise the strength of our defences, if we want to keep our guard high and we want to do that in a way that is affordable, it makes sense for two countries – longstanding allies and partners with similar outlooks on defence – to work together and to share those costs. And I know that Francois Hollande is totally committed to that.

In terms of the European Union, we have some slightly different views. France is a member of the euro; we’re not a member of the euro. France is a member of the Schengen ‘No Borders’ Agreement; we’re not a member of the Schengen ‘No Borders’ Agreement. But I think we can have a grown up relationship on that basis, that you shouldn’t have to join everything in Europe; you should be able to pick and choose a little bit more. For years, France wasn’t a full member of NATO, but that didn’t make them less European.

So, I think it’s right we’re outside the single currency; I think we’re better off with the pound sterling, and we’re going to keep that. But I think we can have a good relationship with the French on the basis that defence is a really important part of what we do together, something we are going to agree about a lot and there may be other areas where we’ll have our disagreements and have different approaches, but I think we can have a perfectly frank and sensible relationship on that basis.

One last question, because I know it’s time to go and push the button on the vehicle integration, or are we all done? Well, can I thank you again very much for welcoming me here today. Can I congratulate you again on your 125th birthday, and can I reassure you that Britain – the United Kingdom – wants to keep its defences strong, and that should mean plenty of work for you here at Thales because you do very, very vital things for our defence industries and, as your Managing Director put it, very, very essential things for keeping our troops safe in the battle field. So, thank you very much for that. Thank you for your welcome, and congratulations on your 125th anniversary. Thank you.

David Cameron – 2013 Speech to the National Conservative Convention


Below is the text of the speech made by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, to the 2013 National Conservative Convention on 16th March 2013.

I want to start today with a very clear message for our Party.

About who we are. What we’re for.

We are people who love our country.

Who believe in Britain’s greatness – and believe in restoring it.

Almost three years ago we came into office at a perilous moment in our country’s history.

The needle on the gauge was hovering between decline or success. Sink or swim.

It fell to us in this Party to serve our country in its hour of need.

That is an honour. It is a privilege.

And we must never forget it.

We always knew we’d face pretty big challenges right now.

It’s mid-term.

We’re wrestling with historic debts.

Recovering from the deepest recession since records began.

Fixing a broken welfare system and education system – and yes, a broken society too.

Anyone who thought it was going to be easy – they’re wrong.

Anyone who thinks it’s going to get easier – they’re wrong too.

But let’s remember – above all the background noise – what this is all about:

The national interest: first, last, always.

This is a battle for Britain’s future we are engaged in.

So let the message go out from this hall and this party:

We are here to fight.

We are here to win.

And we have never been more up for the task of turning our country around.

Last October, at our Party conference, I set out the scale of that task.

There’s a global race underway…

…and we’re making sure Britain succeeds in it.

Schools that are world-class.

A welfare system that works.

And crucially – a stronger economy.

Now politicians can always talk…

…so here, today, I want to give you a progress report.

First, schools.

In just the past six months we’ve opened over 400 new Academies…

…making it more than two and a half thousand opened so far.

We’ve got dozens more free schools in the pipeline…

…adding to the 80 that have already opened their doors.

Started from scratch; independent schools; inside the state sector.

We’ve announced tougher tests for trainee teachers…

…more rigorous GCSEs…

…a new national curriculum – and it’s got proper, narrative history back at its heart: Kings, Queens, battles,dates – our island’s story in all its glory.

And what about welfare?

We said it’s wrong for people on welfare to see their incomes going up faster than people in work…

…so last December we made the tough decision to up-rate benefits by just 1 per cent.

We said we’d get Britain working…

…and unemployment has fallen again and again since the Conference.

In fact today we have more people in work than ever before.

On our economy, things are still tough.

But remember this:

The deficit – it’s been cut by a quarter.

Corporation tax – cut to one of the lowest rates in the G7.Private sector jobs – up by more than one million. Yes, more than one million new jobs under this Government.

Up in Liverpool the docks are being renovated, creating 20,000 new jobs over the coming years.

We’ve got Jaguar Land Rover creating thousands of jobs in the West Midlands.

Nissan creating hundreds of jobs in Sunderland.

Last year we exported more cars than any other year in our history.

This year it was confirmed we’re now Germany’s chief trading partner…

…and you know what – we overtook France.

A month ago I took a massive trade delegation to India…

…and our exports there are up by more than half in the past three years.

Our exports to China – almost doubled.

To Russia – more than doubled.

Friends, when Britain is getting back on her feet and back on the map……it can only mean one thing…

…the Conservatives are back in Government.

And let me say this about the global race.

We won’t succeed unless the European Union really drives growth…

…and I was in Brussels yet again yesterday making that argument.

Let me tell you about those trips to Brussels.

Since I last spoke to you at the conference in October we’ve kept the rebate…

…cut the 7-year Budget…

…got an historic agreement to cut regulation instead of endlessly increasing it.

And yes: when it comes to Europe, it is this Party that’s going to negotiate a better deal for Britain…

…and this Party that is finally going to give the British people their say.

This is what Conservatives do.

We make Britain stand tall and proud again.

And for us, this global race is not just about GDP.

It’s about saying to the mum who’s worried about her children’s future…

…we are building a country where there is a future…

…so your kids won’t have to get on a plane to get on in life, they can make it right here in Britain.

It’s what this party’s always been about – aspiration.

Helping those who really do want to work hard; and get on; and make a better life for their family.

And here, friends, is a big difference between us and the Labour party.

Labour say they’re on the side of the little guys…

…but the point is this…

…in their vision the little guys stay little.

We’re about helping people stand taller. Reach further. Do better. Not patronising people, patting them on the head and putting a benefit cheque in their hands…

…but looking them in the eye as equals…

…knowing that nine times out of ten if you give people the tools – the stability at home, the rigour at school, the opportunity at work – they will finish the job and write their own success story.

And that is the crucial point. We give people the tools to succeed. Yes, we believe self-reliance is a good thing, but that doesn’t mean “you’re on your own”.You can’t just say to the teenager who no one has ever believed in: “pull yourself up by the boot-straps”.

I know the leg-ups I got in life.

A loving family, wonderful parents, a great school and university.

Aspiration needs to be nurtured.

And this party has always understood that.

We want people to climb up through their own efforts, yes…

…but in order to climb up they need the ladder to be there in the first place…

…the family that nurtures them, the school that inspires them, the opportunities there for them.

Great Conservatives down the generations have put those ladders in place.

When Churchill invented the labour exchanges that helped people into work.

When Macmillan built new homes.

When Thatcher fired up enterprise so people could start their own businesses.

That’s what we’re doing in the Conservative Party right now.

And here, today, I want to focus on what we’re doing for our young people.

There are far too many people in their teens and twenties who are right at the start of their lives – but can feel it’s the end of the line.

No one’s believed in them.

No one’s given them a chance.

That’s what I’m determined to change.

We are building an aspiration nation.

A country where it’s not who you know or where you’re from…

…but who you are and where you’re determined to go. My dream for Britain is that opportunity is not an accident of birth, but a birth-right.

Like Churchill said: “we are for the ladder. Let all try their best to climb”.

So let me tell you about the ladder we are building for our young people today.

The very first rung – of course – is a loving family…

…and that’s why we must start with those who have no family – who start their lives in care.

Just listen to this.

Around a quarter of the people in our prisons were in care as children.

And the real tragedy is that so many of these stories could have been avoided.

There were people desperate to give children a loving home, but the system said ‘no’.

It takes on average almost two years for a child to move into a loving home…

…and do you know what, black children can typically wait a year longer.

Time and again the system said you need the perfect ‘ethnic match’.

That is wrong and we’re changing it.

We’re making it clear to everyone working in our adoption system: we must move faster – and what matters is not the colour of a family’s skin, it’s the love that’s in it.

The next rung on the ladder is a decent education.

Most of us parents are the same.

We want our children to learn the basics – and then to see their unique talents nurtured.

For me it’s one of the big joys of being a Dad…

…seeing something your children are good at…

…sometimes wondering “where on earth did they get that from?”…

…but then thinking where they’ll go with it.

I say it loud and proud: Samantha and I are pushy parents.

And I want the education system in this country to be like the pushiest, most sharp-elbowed, ambitious parent there is.

Because for years we had the opposite.

We had a left-wing establishment that had bargain-basement expectations of millions of children. They dumbed down the qualifications.

They turned their face away from sinking, failing and coasting schools.

They said: “well, some kids from some estates were never going to do that well anyway, so let’s just stick them on soft courses rather than challenge them.”

You know – those so-called progressives did more to stunt progress and opportunity than almost anyone else in our country.

And it makes me angry.

It makes me angry when I think of children the same age as mine just being marked down and written off…

…no-one noticing their talents or doing anything to nurture them…

…what a complete and utter waste of potential in our country.

So where they broke those rungs on the ladder of aspiration – we are fixing them.

Where they said…

…“all must have prizes”…

…primary school children should take calculators into maths tests…

…grammar and spelling – well they don’t matter…

…after all: it’s elitist and old-fashioned to care about these things…

…we have said: you’re wrong and it’s time to wake up.

Our children can’t compete in this world without a real education.

So we’re getting calculators out of those maths tests…

…and we’re saying spelling, grammar and punctuation – they do matter and children should be marked on them too.

Instead of dumbing down, we’re sharpening up.

Instead of saying: things like single sciences are too tough for kids to study…

…we say: we can’t ask our children to reach for the stars unless they know why they’re there in the first place…

…and today, for the first time in a long time, the number of young people studying science at GCSE – it’s going up. And you know what else the left-wing establishment didn’t like?

Competitive sports – because there are winners and losers.

We say: sport forms character; builds team-work; helps children to succeed.

Yes, you win some; you lose some – and you’ve got to learn that.

Now for years Government thought you could just set a target for sport and that would fix the problem.

But it doesn’t work like that. One of the reasons why private schools do so brilliantly with sport isn’t targets – it’s that they have teachers there who love to teach sport.

The fact is you can make all these speeches you want and set all the targets you like; but if you want sport taught – you’ve got to employ teachers who do just that.

So I am proud to announce today that this government is going to fund more sports teaching in our primary schools…

…the equivalent of 2 days a week of teaching for every school…

…£150 million of extra funding.

And that money has to be spent on sport. Nothing else.

We all know how we felt watching those Olympics and Paralympics.

Cheering our hearts out for Jess Ennis and David Weir.

This is about making sure that legacy really means something…

…so the next Mo Farah won’t be stuck at home on the sofa, they’ll be competing for Team GB.

The next rung on the ladder is education after school.

Is it any wonder some of our young people were left confused.

18 year-olds were told: “Go to university, it’s the ticket to success”…

…then they heard: “oh, but you know they’re all mickey mouse courses these days”.

Then it was: “what businesses actually want is real skills”…

…but they looked at doing something vocational and found this alphabet soup of qualifications, many of which were worthless.

That is the hopeless situation Labour left.

So we’re sweeping that confusion away – and have this clear ambition:

We want it to be the new norm in our country that at the age of 18, every school leaver either starts an Apprenticeship or goes to university.

Two clear paths. Both highly respected.

If you think this can’t happen, look at Germany.

Their universities are good. Their apprenticeships are excellent.

And they have one of the lowest rates of youth unemployment in Europe.

We can have the same here.

Already we’ve reformed university funding.

Why? Because I’m determined that we go on being able to afford world-class universities.

And to the students: you don’t pay a penny of those fees back until you’re earning £21,000. Not one penny.

And you know what?

Since the new system came in, in spite of all the warnings, applications haven’t gone down – they’re going up…

…and the application rate for the poorest students is at its highest level ever.

We’re making big changes to apprenticeships too.

We’ve started new Higher Apprenticeships…

…designed by companies like Rolls Royce and Siemens…

…every bit the equal of the best degrees.

And remember: over a million apprenticeships have been started since we came to office.

This is how we back the aspirations of young people – and help them to win in the global race.

The next rung on that ladder for young people is work: a decent job for decent pay.

Think of the young woman who has slogged her way through college, sitting at her parents’ kitchen table, writing out application form after application form because she’s desperate for a decent job.

Now what do we say to people like her?

Labour say: We need more spending, more borrowing, more debt – and everything will be fine.

When will they learn?

You can’t borrow your way out of a debt crisis.

We say that the old economy they left us was built on debt and spending and out-of-control immigration.

It didn’t work for Britain – and it didn’t work for young people.

Never let them forget – youth unemployment went up by 40 per cent under Labour.

So we have a new approach.

Instead of welfare that pays people to sit at home instead of go to work…

…we’ve done things like introduce real work experience to get you off the dole and into a job.

Instead of out-of-control immigration – we’ve got a grip on it.

Instead of training schemes that just sent people through the revolving door from benefits, to a job for a bit, and then back onto benefits again…

…we’ve got a Work Programme which pays out when people get into long-term work, not some quick fix.

And we’re seeing results. The number on out-of-work benefits – it’s down.

Net migration – it’s been cut by a third.

Under Labour, in those so-called boom years, over half of new jobs went to foreign nationals…

…with this Government that’s been cut to just ten per cent in the last year.

And we had a record set last year too: more private sector firms in existence than any other year in our history.

We’re backing that with Start-Up Loans.

If you’re 30 or under and you’ve got a business idea you can apply for a few thousand pounds to get it going – and then you pay it back at a decent interest rate.

I launched these last year and they’re running at hundreds of new loans a week.

We’re not offering young people a false promise, but giving them a real future: a country where if they work hard they can get on in life.

And friends, for most young people, getting on in life means one more thing: a home of their own.

Now some people say, after the boom and bust of recent years, is this still realistic? Shouldn’t we get used to the more continental style of renting our homes?

The people who say this often do so from the comfort of the flat or house they bought when prices were low.

Well I remember getting the keys to my first flat, and walking through the door and having that great feeling of owning your own place…

…and I know that for young people in our country the dream of home ownership never dies.

And it’s not just young people.

Let me read you a letter I got recently from a woman in West Sussex.

She says: My mother has lived in the same house for 37 years and it has always been her dream to buy it.

This year we completed the purchase of our home thanks to the council discount being increased… with the new discount we made the purchase effortlessly.

She ends the letter: “we are now proud home owners”.

That’s something this Government made possible.

And I’m determined we do more.

Where councils aren’t doing enough to let people buy their own homes – we’re getting after them.

Where young people are finding it tough to raise a deposit – we’re helping them.

Where builders have land but can’t get finance – we’re getting those loans to them.

Where government-owned land could be released for new homes – we’re making it happen.

Where offices are standing empty and they could be turned into flats – we’re making that happen too.

It comes back to this.

In our country, do we want this to be the generation that lets home-ownership slip back to what it was in the 19th century: a privilege only afforded by the wealthy or those with rich parents?

No: we want to be the generation that builds a new property-owning democracy for the 21st century.

Like I said in my conference speech: we are not here to defend privilege, we are here to spread it.

Let me end by saying this. We have before us less than one thousand days until the next General Election.

Less than one thousand days to target the seats, get our message out, win the majority our country desperately needs…

…and we have a real fight on our hands. But if you want to be stirred for that fight, just think of this.

Think of what the first hundred days of a Labour government would mean.

Wealth creation – trashed.

Businesses – slated.

Free schools – shut.

Quangos – opening.

The welfare cap – reversed.

The welfare rolls – accelerating.

The unions back in Downing Street.

And yes: Ed Balls back in the Treasury.

Anyone in this party who’s in any doubt who we should be fighting, what we should be debating, where our energies should be focussed…

…I tell you: our battle is with Labour.

Let’s not mince our words: this is a bunch of self-satisfied, Labour socialists who think they can spend your money better than you can, make decisions better than you can and tell you what to do…

…and we should never, ever let that lot near government again.

That’s who we’re fighting against.

And we know who we’re fighting for.

For all those who work hard and want to get on.

For the mother who wants a better life for her children.

For the young people who dream of their first pay-cheque, their first car, their first home…

…we’re saying if you are ready and willing to work hard to get those things then we in the Conservative Party are with you.

We are building an aspiration nation.

Where no one knows their place.

Where the future’s wide open to everyone with the dream and the drive to seize it.

This is a battle for Britain’s future. Does this party ever shy away from the fight? No.

I’m up for it.

This party’s up for it. So let’s give it everything – I mean everything – we’ve got.

David Cameron – 2013 Press Conference after Brussels EU Council Meeting


Below is the text of the press conference statement and Q&A following the Brussels EU Council. The press conference was held on 15th March 2013.

Good afternoon and welcome. I think this Council has had a number of useful discussions and some measured and good progress has been made. Four issues really: the EU budget, the British Presidency of the G8, the European economy and the issue of Syria. I’ll just say a word about each.

On the EU budget, I remain of the view that we did a good deal; we did a really important deal for the future of the EU budget. We cut the limit of the EU credit card, and that limit is going to stay cut. There should be no change to the ceiling that was agreed, and the Council is clear about this. Of course the European Parliament will have points it wants to make, will have ideas it wants to put forward, will have flexibility it wants to suggest, but the ceiling is the ceiling, the rebate is the rebate, and they aren’t going to change.

Second, the G8 . It was an opportunity for me to spell out the agenda that we’ll be pursuing at Loch Erne in Northern Ireland in June: three key economic issues on tax, transparency and trade. On tax, I do think it’s important that we have international cooperation to stop tax evasion and to deal with aggressive tax avoidance and that is the agenda we’ll be pushing at the G8 and obviously it applies in the G20 and the OECD as well.

Transparency, this is important. Because we want to make sure that when developing countries discover oil, gas, mineral deposits, we want to make sure that these are a blessing and not a curse and too often in the past they’ve proved to be a curse. And I think the most important thing we can do there is greater transparency, greater transparency for governments, greater transparency for companies, greater transparency about laws and rules, and I think the G8 can give a lead there.

The third issue is trade. As you know, the trade deals that are on the table would add 2% to European Union GDP and help create 2 million jobs but of course trade shouldn’t simply be an issue for the rich men’s club of the world, it should also be an issue where we see an expansion of trade deals between developing countries and indeed within developing continents, particularly Africa where there are still many complex rules and bureaucracy that stop it achieving its full rate of growth.

Added to those three Ts of tax, transparency and trade, we’ll also have a discussion – and I hope some progress – on issues related to terrorism, how we close down the ungoverned spaces, how we confront the poisonous narrative that the terrorists feed off, how we work together to improve security cooperation right across North Africa and also how we deal with the problems raised by hostage taking. So that is an issue I want us to pursue and discuss at the G8.

Third point to make is in terms of progress on European economic growth. Last night’s discussion was useful. Chancellor Merkel, President Hollande and I achieved, I think, an important breakthrough, which is this: the European Commission has been looking at the greatest burdens identified by small and medium sized enterprises. And remember, it is small and medium sized enterprises that have provided 85% of the new jobs in the European Union over the last decade. They’ve identified ten key areas, the SMEs, where they want burdens reduced and we have now mandated the commission to set out in June how they’re going to reduce those burdens. They’ve also by autumn got to produce a list of unnecessary European Union rules that need to be reversed.

As you know, I’ve spoken about the fact we are involved in a global race, a race where we need to compete and succeed, we need a more flexible, a more open, a more competitive Europe, that was the theme of my speech about Europe . I believe we’re beginning to achieve some of those things, because we need a Europe that doesn’t overregulate; in fact, we need a Europe that starts to take regulation off. We need the ratchet to go in the other direction, and with the Commission’s help we are now starting to see some progress on that front in the two ways that I identified.

Finally on Syria, it is worth reflecting that we are two years into this dreadful conflict. There are probably over 70,000 people who’ve lost their lives and I think we have to be frank that what the international community has done so far – of course it has helped in terms of humanitarian assistance, and I’m proud of the role that Britain has played there; of course it has helped to put pressure on the regime, and I’m proud of what we’ve done at the UN and here at the EU – but it hasn’t overall worked in terms of stopping this conflict and achieving transition in Syria.

I think that Foreign Secretary William Hague achieved an excellent outcome last week when he changed the rules so that it is possible to give technical assistance to the Syrian opposition, because we want to help them in what they’re doing, we want to shape them in what they’re doing in order to help provide a better outcome, but Francois Hollande and I have agreed it is also right to look at further changes in terms of the arms embargo, because at the moment it is basically still treating the Syrian regime in a pretty similar way to the Syrian opposition.

This will be debated by foreign ministers, but I think it is just worth taking on for a moment the two arguments that the opponents of change make. The first is that what is required in Syria is a political solution, not a military solution . W ell, of course people want a political solution, of course I want a political solution, but this is not an either/or situation. I think in fact we’re more likely to see political progress if actually people can see that the Syrian opposition, which we have now recognised, that we are working with, is a credible and strengthening and growing force.

The second argument people make is of course if you change the rules under the arms embargo, the arms will go to the wrong people, to which my answer is: that is what has happened already. And actually it’s important for countries like Britain, France, working with the Americans, working with other allies in the Gulf, to help the opposition, to work with the opposition, to shape the opposition and to make sure that it is those parts of the opposition that support a democratic and pluralistic Syria where minorities are properly protected, that those are the organisations getting our help and getting our assistance.

So President Hollande and I made some of these arguments in the discussion this morning. The foreign ministers will meet, and I hope further progress will be made. But in the end, this is not about process. In the end this is about really working out everything we can do to help achieve a transition at the top in Syria, but also to help, shape and work with the Syrian opposition, who we now properly and rightfully recognise.

That was all I wanted to say, happy to take some questions.


Prime Minister, I’d like to ask you about Syria please. You said that you and the French President – who I know you had a meeting with yesterday – raised this this morning. You didn’t say what response you got from the other European leaders here. I wondered if you could tell us please what support, how much support or how little support, you’ve got from other European leaders.

And the French President has said overnight that if the EU will not agree to what you and he are asking for, changing those sanctions that run out at the end of May, then the French are prepared to act on their own. Now, can I ask you is Britain prepared to act along with the French if there is not agreement in the EU? We’ve already seen Britain and France combine on Libya, for example. Are we going to see a similar thing in Syria or are you confident you might get the agreement you want in the EU?


Well, first of all we should recognise the progress that was made last time these arrangements were discussed, where we wanted to have that changed so it was possible to give technical assistance to the Syrian opposition forces. We have that change; we’re able to do that; that’s right, that’s good. As things stand today, I’m not saying that Britain would actually like to supply arms to rebel groups. What we want to do is work with them and try to make sure that they are doing the right thing, and with technical assistance we are able to do that. So that is the first point I’d make.

In terms of the discussion this morning, this is a leaders meeting; it’s not a meeting where we were debating conclusions or bits of text. It was an opportunity to make some arguments, to make points and to try to start the process of persuading people who’ve been less willing to move on this that there really are very strong arguments for saying that what is happening now isn’t working, and I sensed that there was a good understanding of that.

What President Hollande has said about this issue is pretty similar to what I said to the Liaison Committee last week. Look, Britain is a sovereign country; we have our own foreign security and defence policies. If we want to take individual action, we think that’s in our national interest, of course we’re free to do so. The way it works in the European Union, if you want to come to a common position, as we have on this issue, you can, and then you can either keep renewing that common position, or you can decide not to renew that common position. Obviously so far, what we’ve done is amend that common position so that we have been able to give technical assistance.

But if I thought our national interest was best met in another way, just as the French President would always stand up for France, I would always stand up for British interests. And on these issues, France and Britain do work well together; we do have, I think, a common analysis of what is wrong in Syria. We want to work together with allies in the Gulf to try and help bring about the change that we want to see, and I’m glad that relationship is working well.


What brought about the urgency for the French position yesterday? There seemed to be a very big shift from things going quite slowly to quite a different position being adopted by the French and indeed by you.


Well I think you’d obviously have to ask Francois (Hollande) that. I think the key point is this, it is March . Where we are now, these embargo arrangements have to be either renewed in May or amended in May or discontinued in May. So it’s right to have this debate. The most important thing that’s happened in the last few days over this issue is the amendment of the embargo arrangement, so that Britain and France, working together with allies, can help the Syrian opposition. We want to help them to save lives. We want to help them to bring about a transition in Syria.

It is worth standing back and asking, why are we debating and discussing the approach we take? Well, the answer is because two years in, 70,000 people are dead. There’s a huge refugee and humanitarian crisis. Assad is still in place. He’s still being strongly supplied and strengthened by others, and we need to put pressure on to bring about the transition that is necessary for the Syrian people, necessary for the stability of that region, and in our national interest too.


Just to follow up on what you said, that Britain you’re saying would not actually like to supply arms at this point, why does it matter then to change the arms embargo?


Well I think first of all, what we most wanted to be able to do, as I said, is the technical assistance, which we wouldn’t have been able to do under the existing embargo, and that’s why it’s good that it’s changed. I think we should be asking ourselves the question though, is it right to have an arms embargo that basically still sees a sort of parity in terms of who you help between the regime and the opposition? Is that the right approach? Shouldn’t we be sending a pretty clear signal, just as we’ve sent a signal that we recognise the opposition, shouldn’t we be sending a more clear signal that there is a fundamental difference when it comes to the regime and the opposition?

But this debate can now take place amongst the foreign ministers. I hope that a good common position can be achieved, but I think the French and British arguments are very strong about why we need to argue for changes in order to make sure that we speed up the transition process in Syria.


Could I take you back to a domestic issue: Leveson? How confident are you on Monday’s vote, and if protecting the free press is such an important issue of principle, why are you prepared to continue in a coalition that may legislate to stop it?


Well, obviously we’ll have to wait and see exactly what transpires on Monday, but what I think is good news is that we are bringing this issue to a conclusion. What I think we can’t go on with is a situation where the victims and the public don’t know what sort of press regulation we’re going to have. That needs to change. We can’t go on with a situation where, you know, bill after bill, the government’s legislative programme is potentially hijacked or contaminated with motions and amendments that are about something completely different.

So that’s why I think it’s right to bring this to a conclusion. There’s a very good proposal on the table of a Royal Charter and some minor clauses on exemplary damages. That’s the option I’m putting forward. I think the good news – and obviously I’ve been sat here in Brussels – but it seems to me that the other parties are moving away from a sort of full-on legislation on Leveson and accepting that a Royal Charter is the right way forward. Well, that’s good. If we can get on with what I’ve got on the table and pass the legislative clauses I’ve put down, that would be I think real progress.

But it’s right to bring this to a head. In the end, I think that is the best thing for everybody concerned, and I’m pleased that this has I think, now sped up everyone’s thinking process about what they really want.


If I could just ask you a quick one about Army pay. The Armed Forces Pay Review Body says that troops deserve an increase in the X-factor element of their pay to compensate for the added strain put on them by cuts and redundancies. Do you agree that they deserve that rise?


I think that our Armed Forces do an incredible job, and I think they should be probably rewarded, and I think we should always listen to independent bodies. The problem I have with the story in the Telegraph is that it is factually, I am afraid, incorrect, because the decision that I was advised over and made –which was to say to the individual concerned after their term was up that they had done a good job but their term was completed – that decision was made before the report was received. So while we’re talking about press regulation, always a good idea to check the facts before you write the story, in a self‑regulatory sort of way, of course.


We got a new pope this week, Pope Francis, and he said – he has said in the past that Britain has usurped the Falkland Island. Do you agree with him?


Well I don’t agree with him, respectfully, obviously. I would make two points. First of all, there was a pretty extraordinarily clear referendum in the Falkland Islands, and I think that is a message to everyone in the world that the people of these Islands have chosen very clearly the future they want. And that choice should be respected by everyone. As it were, the white smoke over the Falklands was pretty clear.


Do you believe voters should get the right to sack MPs who disgrace themselves in Westminster bars? And following on from that, do you think Eric Joyce is a fit and proper person to be an MP?


Well obviously I haven’t been able to follow every aspect of this story as I’ve been in a room with my 27 colleagues. But I do support the recall proposals that were in our manifesto. I still think it is right if we can find a way of putting this in place. I think it’s an important idea. As for Eric Joyce, I think this is going to have to be properly looked at, and I’m sure that the authorities both inside and outside of the House are more than capable of doing that.


The Austrian Chancellor today told us that the Austrian government is decidedly against the lifting of the arms embargo, and would in that case consider calling back the UN Blue Helmets from Austria on the Golan. Wouldn’t that create a new element of instability in the area, if the UN peacekeepers on the Golan are getting out?


Well, obviously we take a different view. I commend the work that Austrian and other troops do as Blue Helmets all over the world. I think it’s incredibly important that we have UN monitors, UN forces, UN peacekeeping forces. But UN peacekeeping forces should always do the job that they’re mandated to do, and I think saying that one decision about a UN peacekeeping force over here is affected by an entirely different decision over here, I don’t actually think is the right approach.


Can I ask whether you’ve managed to discuss and perhaps gain any ground on bonus caps at this summit, and what’s the risk that we actually get overruled?


The issue wasn’t discussed at this summit. The Chancellor made our position very clear. A couple of points. One is, this D irective, CRD IV, covers a huge amount of other ground . It covers important ground in terms of capital requirements, in terms of Basel conditions. And Britain, as the leading financial power in the European Union should be properly listened to over these vital issues. That is the first point that I would make.

The second point is that in whatever ways possible, we will continue to make sure that, of course, we accept there do need to be rules, and we have the toughest transparency regime I think of any major financial centre. But we do not want to do endorse in any way an approach that will be self-defeating. If we find that financial institutions start to behave in an entirely different way, then actually, we won’t have achieved what I think the European Parliament and others in the European Union want to achieve.

So we will continue to make sure that this is done in a way that is sensible, in a way that doesn’t damage the City of London, which – and I make this point in Brussels – is not just an important financial centre for Britain and an important provider of jobs, but is Europe’s financial centre, too. And I think this is also important to bear in mind when we think about the potential of other European countries to go ahead with the financial transactions tax.

What we ought to be doing at these councils, as I’ve said, is talking about how we win in the global race. How do we make Europe more competitive? How do we get more industries to come to Europe, not leave Europe? And that is the context in which we should be thinking of financial services. Yes, they must be properly regulated, but actually, they do provide growth, jobs, investment, not just within the United Kingdom, but it’s a very important European industry as well.

Thank you very much indeed for coming. I’m sure that we’ll see each other at another one of these European councils before too long.

David Cameron – 2013 Speech to Chinese New Year Reception


Below is the text of the speech made by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, on 13th February 2013 at a Chinese New Year reception at 10, Downing Street.

There’s a very deep and rich relationship between Britain and China, and it’s that relationship that we are celebrating tonight. Of course we’re also celebrating the Year of the Snake.

I’m very proud of the fact that I led a huge trade and diplomacy mission to China after becoming Prime Minister to strengthen the relations between our two countries.

And I think it really is an important relationship. A relationship of trade and investment, and I’m delighted to see that again trade is up double digits between Britain and China over the last year. I’m delighted to see that investment both ways is growing strongly. I’m very proud that we welcome Chinese companies to invest here in Britain. It’s great to see so many Chinese banks making their European headquarters here in the United Kingdom. And I want to see this investment grow between Britain and China.

But I think there’s so much more to our relationship, so many more ways that we can expand. The phrase that we’ve used is ‘partners for growth’: two economies at different stages of development but with so much that we can do together; so much that we can do in education. I’m very proud of the fact that there are many British students studying in China and hugely proud that Chinese students choose Britain to come to our universities.

And because sometimes people think that they get a mixed message about how open Britain is, I want to absolutely put on record tonight, that there is no limit on the number of Chinese students who can come and study at British universities; all that is required is a basic English language qualification and a place at a university. There is no limit. And what’s more there is no limit on the number of Chinese students that can stay and work in Britain as a graduate job contributing to our economy and forging links between Britain and China for the future.

I think there are many more ways in which Britain and China can collaborate. We can work together in the healthcare sector; we can work together in financial services. There are huge cultural links between our countries, and I want to see all of those grow and be cherished. I also want to pay tribute to the immense contribution that the Chinese population plays right here in Britain. It’s a small population, but it’s a population that is hugely successful, having all of the most important values: a belief in hard work, a belief in family, a belief in community, a belief in enterprise.

I’m very committed to expanding the British/China relationship. I see huge opportunities for that expansion to take place. We’re also linked by the two greatest Olympics of the last 100 years. The Chinese set an incredibly high standard to meet and I think we can say that we met it and we should celebrate together two extraordinary Olympics and Paralympics that made the world watch what a great country China is and also watch what a great country the United Kingdom is.

So thank you all for coming tonight, Xin niam kuai le! Happy New Year!

David Cameron – 2013 Speech at Davos


Below is the text of the speech made by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, at the World Economic Forum in Davos on 24th January 2013.

It’s the UK’s privilege to host the G8 this year and I want to set out today our main priorities. Now right up there on our agenda is of course tackling the threat of extremism and terrorist violence that we’ve seen erupt in Mali and in that despicable attack in Algeria.

I’ll put my cards on the table, I believe we are in the midst of a long struggle against murderous terrorists and a poisonous ideology that supports them. Just as we’ve successfully put pressure on al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, so al-Qaeda franchises have been growing for years in Yemen, in Somalia and across parts of North Africa, places that have suffered hideously through hostage taking, terrorism and crime.

Now to defeat this menace we’ve got to be tough, we’ve got to be intelligent and we’ve got to be patient, and this is the argument I’ll be making at the G8. Let me be again absolutely clear, there is a place for a tough security approach including at times military action where necessary. The French are right to act in Mali and I backed that action, not just with words, but with logistical support too. But we need to combine a tough security response with an intelligent political response. We need to address that poisonous narrative that the terrorists feed on. We need to close down the ungoverned space in which they thrive and, yes, we need to deal with the grievances that they use to garner support.

Now this means using everything at our disposal: our diplomatic networks, our aid budgets, our political relations, our military and security cooperation and yes, supporting – in those countries and elsewhere – the building blocks of democracy, like the rule of law and a free media. The Arab Spring remains part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Now I want to open up a new debate too in how we share the burden of meeting this threat. The G8 can help discuss how we can best divide up some of this work between us and how we can each individually partner-up with the countries worst affected to overcome this threat and, like I say, this is going to be right up there on our agenda for the G8.

But today I want to focus on our economic priorities, because for all the countries in the G8 and all the countries across the European Union there is a big, looming insistent question, and that is how do we compete and succeed in the global economic race that we are engaged in today.

How do we succeed when other nations are growing, changing, innovating so fast? Now a lot of the answers are clear. You’ve got to deal with your debts, you’ve got to cut business taxes, you’ve got to tackle the bloat in welfare, and crucially you’ve got to make sure your schools and your universities are truly world class.

Now back in the UK we’ve been doing all of these things. Less than three years in and this government has cut the deficit by a quarter; our corporation tax rate is the lowest in the G7. In welfare reform we’ve been radical, in education almost revolutionary – busting open the state monopoly of education and allowing new Free Schools to start up, and crucially to compete in this global race. We are making sure that the United Kingdom is more outward looking than ever before.

Now yesterday I gave a speech setting out the UK’s place in Europe.

This is not about turning our backs on Europe – quite the opposite. This is about how we make the case for a more competitive, a more open, a more flexible Europe and how we secure the UK’s place within it. This is how I see it. Just over half of the EU countries are in the single currency, in the Euro. When you have a single currency you move inexorably towards a banking union, towards forms of fiscal union and that has huge implications for countries like the UK who are not in the Euro and frankly are never likely to join. The club we belong to is changing. We can’t ignore this: change is underway and the debate about what this means, it is live, it is happening right now.

And as I said yesterday consent in the United Kingdom for the steps that have already been taken is wafer thin.

Now some just say well let these events unfold naturally. I say no. We should try and shape them in the UK’s national interest. Let us negotiate a new settlement for Europe that works for the UK and let’s get fresh consent for it. And it’s not just right for the United Kingdom, it is necessary for Europe. Europe is being out competed, out invested, out innovated and it is time we made the European Union an engine for growth, not a source of cost for business and complaint from our citizens.

So I want the UK to look out, not in, and that is why for the first time in a decade UK foreign policy is on the advance. By 2015 we will have opened up twenty new diplomatic posts around the world, employed three hundred extra staff in the fastest growing regions of the world. We are having to make cuts in the UK, but this is something we are not cutting, we’re expanding. We’re now one of only three European countries to be represented in every single country in ASEAN and we have the largest diplomatic network in India of any developed nation. We are a global nation with global interests and a global reach, and if you think all of this is somehow an unashamed advert for the UK and UK business you’re absolutely right. Everything I do is about making sure we’re not just competing in that global race, but we’re succeeding in it.

But my argument today, the argument I want to make in front of you and the idea that the G8 will be driving forward this year, is that competing in the global race is not just about what we do at home, it is about the wider economy we’ll operate in, the rules that shape it, the fairness and the openness that characterise it. We need more free trade. We need fairer tax systems. We need more transparency on how governments and, yes, companies operate.

Let me tell you why. It’s the oldest observation of the modern age that we are all interconnected. Communication is faster than ever, finance is more mobile than ever and yet the paradox of this open world is that in many ways it’s still so closed and so secretive. It’s a world where trade is still choked off by barriers and bureaucracy. It’s a world where some companies navigate their way around legitimate tax systems and even low tax rates with an army of clever accountants. It’s a world where, regrettably, corrupt government officials in some countries and some corporations run rings around the letter and the spirit of the law to rip off hard working people and to plunder their natural resources.

There is a long and tragic history of some African countries being stripped of their minerals behind a veil of secrecy. We can see the results: the government cronies get rich, some beyond their wildest dreams of avarice, while the people in those countries stay poor.

So it is clear how devastating this can be for some developing countries. But frankly all this matters, and should matter, to developed countries too. When trade isn’t free, we all suffer. When some businesses aren’t seen to pay their taxes, that is corrosive to the public trust. When shadowy companies don’t play by the rules, that drives more box ticking, more regulation, more interference and that makes life harder for other businesses to turn a profit. That is why I want this year’s G8 to bring a new focus on these issues: trade, tax, transparency. Those are the issues we are going to be driving for this year.

So first we’re going to push for more openness on trade. In late 2008 we saw the steepest fall in global trade ever and the deepest since the Great Depression, and more than four years on trade has still not fully recovered. Now this should be at the forefront of the mind of every leader, every diplomat during those long negotiations on trade; and there’s an enormous amount on the table today. You’ve got the US leading efforts on the Trans Pacific Partnership. In the European Union we’re about to embark on our biggest-ever programme of free trade agreement negotiations. We’ve got parameters for a deal with Singapore, negotiations with Canada nearly complete, and we’re about to launch negotiations with Japan, and of course there’s the beginning of negotiations on an EU-US trade deal. Now the EU and the US together, we actually make up about a third of all global trade. A deal between us could add over fifty billion pounds to the EU economy alone. Agreeing all the EU deals on the table could increase our GDP by two per cent and create over two million jobs across the European Union.

Trade between developing countries and within Africa is growing and we should work to encourage that further – and we must also continue to support the multilateral system. This means working through the WTO to agree a deal to sweep away trade bureaucracy at the ministerial conference in Bali this December. That alone could be worth around seventy billion dollars to the global economy and help trade to flow freely across the world. It is ambitious, but we must seize these opportunities to give a massive boost to free trade across the world.

Now the next T is tax. We want to use the G8 to drive a more serious debate on tax evasion and tax avoidance. This is an issue whose time has come. After years of abuse people across the planet are rightly calling for more action, and most importantly there is gathering political will to actually do something about it.

Again let me put my cards squarely on the table. Of course there is a difference between tax evasion and tax avoidance. Evasion is illegal. It can and should be subject to the full force of the criminal law. But what about tax avoidance? Now of course there’s nothing wrong with sensible tax planning and there are some things that governments want people to do that reduce tax bills, such as investing in a pension, a start up business or giving money to a charity. But there are some forms of avoidance that have become so aggressive that I think it is right to say these raise ethical issues, and it is time to call for more responsibility and for governments to act accordingly.

In the UK we’ve already committed hundreds of millions into this effort, but acting alone has its limits. Clamp down in one country and the travelling caravan of lawyers, accountants and financial gurus will just move on elsewhere. So we need to act together, including at the G8. If there are difficult questions about whether existing standards are tough enough to tackle avoidance we need to ask them. If there are options for more multilateral deals on automatic information exchange to catch tax evaders we need to explore them.

And we want to work with developing countries on this too. The fact is, the poorer the nation, the more they need the tax revenues – but often the weaker the capacity they have to collect them. But we must not let them off the hook; it can be done. The UK has worked with the Ethiopian authorities to help with tax collection, and in the last decade the amount of tax collected has increased by seven times. All of this in developed and developing countries alike comes down to a simple issue of fairness.

I believe in low taxes, that is why my government is cutting the top rate of income tax, we’ve cut corporation tax. [Delete – political].

Individuals and businesses must pay their fair share. And businesses who think they can carry on dodging that fair share, or that they can keep on selling to the UK and setting up ever more complex tax arrangements abroad to squeeze their tax bills right down, well they need to wake up and smell the coffee, because the public who buy from them have had enough.

And let’s be clear: speaking out on these things is not anti capitalism, it is not anti business. If you want to keep tax rates low you’ve got to keep taxes coming in – put simply: no tax base, no low tax case. You need to have that base in order to deliver the low taxes that businesses and competitive economies need. This is the argument that’s been made brilliantly by the economist Paul Collier and I’m delighted that he’s been advising my government ahead of this G8. This is about me and all the other G8 leaders being able to look our people in the eye and say that when they work hard and pay their fair share of taxes we will make sure that others do so as well.

Now the third big push on our agenda is transparency: shining a light on company ownership, land ownership and where money flows from and to.

This is critical to developing countries. Of course aid has played, and will continue to play, an important role in development, and I’m proud that the UK is keeping its aid promises. I’m also proud that we are leading the fight on global hunger, funding nutrition programmes for twenty million children and pregnant women over the next few years.

There should be, there will be, and I will back a major push on tackling global hunger, under-nutrition and stunting this year. And I applaud the NGOs, the charities, the organisations that are motivating public opinion, business opinion, world opinion on this absolutely vital issue.

But at the same time as talking about aid we also need to move the debate on so we’re not just dealing with the symptoms of poverty but we’re tackling the causes. Now I’ve argued for years that there is a golden thread of conditions that enable open economies and open societies to thrive. The rule of law, the absence of conflict and corruption, the presence of property rights and strong institutions: these things are vital for countries to move from poverty to wealth.

And now as the co-chair of the UN High Level Panel, and with the presidency of the G8, there is a chance to put turbo boosters under this agenda, and I’m determined to seize that chance.

I want this G8 to lead a big push for transparency across the developing world, and to illustrate why let me give you one example. A few years back a transparency initiative exposed a huge hole in Nigeria’s finances, an eight hundred million dollar discrepancy between what companies were paying and what the government was receiving for oil – a massive, massive gap. The discovery of this is leading to new regulation of Nigeria’s oil sector so the richness of the earth can actually help to enrich the people of that country.

And the potential is staggering. Last year Nigeria oil exports were worth almost a hundred billion dollars. That is more than the total net aid to the whole of sub Saharan Africa. So put simply: unleashing the natural resources in these countries dwarfs anything aid can achieve, and transparency is absolutely critical to that end. So we’re going to push for more transparency on who owns companies; on who’s buying up land and for what purpose; on how governments spend their money; on how gas, oil and mining companies operate; and on who is hiding stolen assets and how we recover and return them. Like everything else in this G8, the ambitions are big and I make no apology for that.

Thirty years ago more than half of our planet lived on the equivalent of one dollar twenty five a day or less; today it’s not one half, it is one fifth. This is an amazing story of human progress and it shows what is possible. We can be the generation that eradicates absolute poverty in our world, but we’ll only achieve that if we break the vicious cycle and treat the causes of poverty and not just its symptoms.

So let me end today by saying this: I know that some people might be thinking he’s talking about cracking down on tax avoidance, talking about making companies be more transparent – doesn’t this sound like an anti-business, bash the rich, tax success agenda? Absolutely not. This is a resolutely pro-business agenda. I’m about the most pro-business leader you can find. I yield to no-one in my enthusiasm for capitalism.

It is an economic system that generated more wealth, unleashed more human potential and reduced more grinding poverty than any other in history. I don’t believe that one person’s wealth fairly gained through free exchange in an open market is somehow the cause of another person’s poverty. I will have no truck with those who want to demonise the successful, to level down rather than to build up, or to those who seek continually to turn the word profit in to a dirty word.

But I also passionately believe that if you want open economies, low taxes and free enterprise then you need to lay down the rules of the game and you need to be prepared to enforce them. Poor business practice doesn’t operate in a vacuum: it hurts the good. When one company doesn’t pay the taxes they owe then other companies end up paying more. When some cowboys play the system all businesses suffer from the fallout to their reputation – that is why it’s not just those in the NGOs who’ve been lobbying my government on these issues, it’s those in the high rises in the City of London: bankers, lawyers, senior figures in finance. They’ve told us to pursue this agenda hard and that is exactly what we’re going to do.

This is a vision of proper companies, proper taxes, proper rules. A vision of open societies, open economies and open government and we are going to work with our partners in the G8 to achieve it for the good of the people right across the world. Thank you very much indeed for listening.

David Cameron – 2013 Speech on the European Union


Below is the text of the speech made by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, at Bloomburg on 23rd January 2013.

This morning I want to talk about the future of Europe.

But first, let us remember the past.

Seventy years ago, Europe was being torn apart by its second catastrophic conflict in a generation. A war which saw the streets of European cities strewn with rubble. The skies of London lit by flames night after night. And millions dead across the world in the battle for peace and liberty.

As we remember their sacrifice, so we should also remember how the shift in Europe from war to sustained peace came about. It did not happen like a change in the weather. It happened because of determined work over generations. A commitment to friendship and a resolve never to re-visit that dark past – a commitment epitomised by the Elysee Treaty signed 50 years ago this week.

After the Berlin Wall came down I visited that city and I will never forget it.

The abandoned checkpoints. The sense of excitement about the future. The knowledge that a great continent was coming together. Healing those wounds of our history is the central story of the European Union.

What Churchill described as the twin marauders of war and tyranny have been almost entirely banished from our continent. Today, hundreds of millions dwell in freedom, from the Baltic to the Adriatic, from the Western Approaches to the Aegean.

And while we must never take this for granted, the first purpose of the European Union – to secure peace – has been achieved and we should pay tribute to all those in the EU, alongside NATO, who made that happen.

But today the main, over-riding purpose of the European Union is different: not to win peace, but to secure prosperity.

The challenges come not from within this continent but outside it. From the surging economies in the East and South. Of course a growing world economy benefits us all, but we should be in no doubt that a new global race of nations is underway today.

A race for the wealth and jobs of the future.

The map of global influence is changing before our eyes. And these changes are already being felt by the entrepreneur in the Netherlands, the worker in Germany, the family in Britain.

Deliver prosperity, retain support

So I want to speak to you today with urgency and frankness about the European Union and how it must change – both to deliver prosperity and to retain the support of its peoples.

But first, I want to set out the spirit in which I approach these issues.

I know that the United Kingdom is sometimes seen as an argumentative and rather strong-minded member of the family of European nations.

And it’s true that our geography has shaped our psychology.

We have the character of an island nation – independent, forthright, passionate in defence of our sovereignty.

We can no more change this British sensibility than we can drain the English Channel.

And because of this sensibility, we come to the European Union with a frame of mind that is more practical than emotional.

For us, the European Union is a means to an end – prosperity, stability, the anchor of freedom and democracy both within Europe and beyond her shores – not an end in itself.

We insistently ask: How? Why? To what end?

But all this doesn’t make us somehow un-European.

The fact is that ours is not just an island story – it is also a continental story.

For all our connections to the rest of the world – of which we are rightly proud – we have always been a European power – and we always will be.

From Caesar’s legions to the Napoleonic Wars. From the Reformation, the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution to the defeat of Nazism. We have helped to write European history, and Europe has helped write ours.

Over the years, Britain has made her own, unique contribution to Europe. We have provided a haven to those fleeing tyranny and persecution. And in Europe’s darkest hour, we helped keep the flame of liberty alight. Across the continent, in silent cemeteries, lie the hundreds of thousands of British servicemen who gave their lives for Europe’s freedom.

In more recent decades, we have played our part in tearing down the Iron Curtain and championing the entry into the EU of those countries that lost so many years to Communism. And contained in this history is the crucial point about Britain, our national character, our attitude to Europe.

Britain is characterised not just by its independence but, above all, by its openness.

We have always been a country that reaches out. That turns its face to the world…

That leads the charge in the fight for global trade and against protectionism.

This is Britain today, as it’s always been:Independent, yes – but open, too.

I never want us to pull up the drawbridge and retreat from the world.

I am not a British isolationist.

I don’t just want a better deal for Britain. I want a better deal for Europe too.

So I speak as British Prime Minister with a positive vision for the future of the European Union. A future in which Britain wants, and should want, to play a committed and active part.

Some might then ask: why raise fundamental questions about the future of Europe when Europe is already in the midst of a deep crisis?

Why raise questions about Britain’s role when support in Britain is already so thin.

There are always voices saying “don’t ask the difficult questions.”

Three major challenges

But it’s essential for Europe – and for Britain – that we do because there are three major challenges confronting us today.

First, the problems in the Eurozone are driving fundamental change in Europe.

Second, there is a crisis of European competitiveness, as other nations across the world soar ahead. And third, there is a gap between the EU and its citizens which has grown dramatically in recent years. And which represents a lack of democratic accountability and consent that is – yes – felt particularly acutely in Britain.

If we don’t address these challenges, the danger is that Europe will fail and the British people will drift towards the exit.

I do not want that to happen. I want the European Union to be a success. And I want a relationship between Britain and the EU that keeps us in it.

That is why I am here today: To acknowledge the nature of the challenges we face. To set out how I believe the European Union should respond to them. And to explain what I want to achieve for Britain and its place within the European Union.

Let me start with the nature of the challenges we face.

First, the Eurozone.

The future shape of Europe is being forged. There are some serious questions that will define the future of the European Union – and the future of every country within it.

The Union is changing to help fix the currency – and that has profound implications for all of us, whether we are in the single currency or not.

Britain is not in the single currency, and we’re not going to be. But we all need the Eurozone to have the right governance and structures to secure a successful currency for the long term.

And those of us outside the Eurozone also need certain safeguards to ensure, for example, that our access to the Single Market is not in any way compromised.

And it’s right we begin to address these issues now.

Second, while there are some countries within the EU which are doing pretty well. Taken as a whole, Europe’s share of world output is projected to fall by almost a third in the next two decades. This is the competitiveness challenge – and much of our weakness in meeting it is self-inflicted.

Complex rules restricting our labour markets are not some naturally occurring phenomenon. Just as excessive regulation is not some external plague that’s been visited on our businesses.

These problems have been around too long. And the progress in dealing with them, far too slow.

As Chancellor Merkel has said – if Europe today accounts for just over 7 per cent of the world’s population, produces around 25 per cent of global GDP and has to finance 50 per cent of global social spending, then it’s obvious that it will have to work very hard to maintain its prosperity and way of life.

Third, there is a growing frustration that the EU is seen as something that is done to people rather than acting on their behalf. And this is being intensified by the very solutions required to resolve the economic problems.

People are increasingly frustrated that decisions taken further and further away from them mean their living standards are slashed through enforced austerity or their taxes are used to bail out governments on the other side of the continent.

We are starting to see this in the demonstrations on the streets of Athens, Madrid and Rome. We are seeing it in the parliaments of Berlin, Helsinki and the Hague.

And yes, of course, we are seeing this frustration with the EU very dramatically in Britain.

Europe’s leaders have a duty to hear these concerns. Indeed, we have a duty to act on them. And not just to fix the problems in the Eurozone.

For just as in any emergency you should plan for the aftermath as well as dealing with the present crisis so too in the midst of the present challenges we should plan for the future, and what the world will look like when the difficulties in the Eurozone have been overcome.

The biggest danger to the European Union comes not from those who advocate change, but from those who denounce new thinking as heresy. In its long history Europe has experience of heretics who turned out to have a point.

And my point is this. More of the same will not secure a long-term future for the Eurozone. More of the same will not see the European Union keeping pace with the new powerhouse economies. More of the same will not bring the European Union any closer to its citizens. More of the same will just produce more of the same – less competitiveness, less growth, fewer jobs.

And that will make our countries weaker not stronger.

That is why we need fundamental, far-reaching change.

21st century European Union

So let me set out my vision for a new European Union, fit for the 21st Century.

It is built on five principles.

The first: competitiveness. At the core of the European Union must be, as it is now, the single market. Britain is at the heart of that Single Market, and must remain so.

But when the Single Market remains incomplete in services, energy and digital – the very sectors that are the engines of a modern economy – it is only half the success it could be.

It is nonsense that people shopping online in some parts of Europe are unable to access the best deals because of where they live. I want completing the single market to be our driving mission.

I want us to be at the forefront of transformative trade deals with the US, Japan and India as part of the drive towards global free trade. And I want us to be pushing to exempt Europe’s smallest entrepreneurial companies from more EU Directives.

These should be the tasks that get European officials up in the morning – and keep them working late into the night. And so we urgently need to address the sclerotic, ineffective decision making that is holding us back.

That means creating a leaner, less bureaucratic Union, relentlessly focused on helping its member countries to compete.

In a global race, can we really justify the huge number of expensive peripheral European institutions?

Can we justify a Commission that gets ever larger?

Can we carry on with an organisation that has a multi-billion pound budget but not enough focus on controlling spending and shutting down programmes that haven’t worked?

And I would ask: when the competitiveness of the Single Market is so important, why is there an environment council, a transport council, an education council but not a single market council?

The second principle should be flexibility.

We need a structure that can accommodate the diversity of its members – North, South, East, West, large, small, old and new. Some of whom are contemplating much closer economic and political integration. And many others, including Britain, who would never embrace that goal.

I accept, of course, that for the single market to function we need a common set of rules and a way of enforcing them. But we also need to be able to respond quickly to the latest developments and trends.

Competitiveness demands flexibility, choice and openness – or Europe will fetch up in a no-man’s land between the rising economies of Asia and market-driven North America.

The EU must be able to act with the speed and flexibility of a network, not the cumbersome rigidity of a bloc.

We must not be weighed down by an insistence on a one size fits all approach which implies that all countries want the same level of integration. The fact is that they don’t and we shouldn’t assert that they do.

Some will claim that this offends a central tenet of the EU’s founding philosophy. I say it merely reflects the reality of the European Union today. 17 members are part of the Eurozone. 10 are not.

26 European countries are members of Schengen – including four outside the European Union – Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland. 2 EU countries – Britain and Ireland – have retained their border controls.

Some members, like Britain and France, are ready, willing and able to take action in Libya or Mali. Others are uncomfortable with the use of military force.

Let’s welcome that diversity, instead of trying to snuff it out.

Let’s stop all this talk of two-speed Europe, of fast lanes and slow lanes, of countries missing trains and buses, and consign the whole weary caravan of metaphors to a permanent siding.

Instead, let’s start from this proposition: we are a family of democratic nations, all members of one European Union, whose essential foundation is the single market rather than the single currency. Those of us outside the euro recognise that those in it are likely to need to make some big institutional changes.

By the same token, the members of the Eurozone should accept that we, and indeed all Member States, will have changes that we need to safeguard our interests and strengthen democratic legitimacy. And we should be able to make these changes too.

Some say this will unravel the principle of the EU – and that you can’t pick and choose on the basis of what your nation needs.

But far from unravelling the EU, this will in fact bind its Members more closely because such flexible, willing cooperation is a much stronger glue than compulsion from the centre.

Let me make a further heretical proposition.

The European Treaty commits the Member States to “lay the foundations of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe”.

This has been consistently interpreted as applying not to the peoples but rather to the states and institutions compounded by a European Court of Justice that has consistently supported greater centralisation.

We understand and respect the right of others to maintain their commitment to this goal. But for Britain – and perhaps for others – it is not the objective.

And we would be much more comfortable if the Treaty specifically said so freeing those who want to go further, faster, to do so, without being held back by the others.

So to those who say we have no vision for Europe.

I say we have.

Flexible union

We believe in a flexible union of free member states who share treaties and institutions and pursue together the ideal of co-operation. To represent and promote the values of European civilisation in the world. To advance our shared interests by using our collective power to open markets. And to build a strong economic base across the whole of Europe.

And we believe in our nations working together to protect the security and diversity of our energy supplies. To tackle climate change and global poverty. To work together against terrorism and organised crime. And to continue to welcome new countries into the EU.

This vision of flexibility and co-operation is not the same as those who want to build an ever closer political union – but it is just as valid.

My third principle is that power must be able to flow back to Member States, not just away from them. This was promised by European Leaders at Laeken a decade ago.

It was put in the Treaty. But the promise has never really been fulfilled. We need to implement this principle properly.

So let us use this moment, as the Dutch Prime Minister has recently suggested, to examine thoroughly what the EU as a whole should do and should stop doing.

In Britain we have already launched our balance of competences review – to give us an informed and objective analysis of where the EU helps and where it hampers.

Let us not be misled by the fallacy that a deep and workable single market requires everything to be harmonised, to hanker after some unattainable and infinitely level playing field.

Countries are different. They make different choices. We cannot harmonise everything. For example, it is neither right nor necessary to claim that the integrity of the single market, or full membership of the European Union requires the working hours of British hospital doctors to be set in Brussels irrespective of the views of British parliamentarians and practitioners.

In the same way we need to examine whether the balance is right in so many areas where the European Union has legislated including on the environment, social affairs and crime.

Nothing should be off the table.

My fourth principle is democratic accountability: we need to have a bigger and more significant role for national parliaments.

There is not, in my view, a single European demos.

It is national parliaments, which are, and will remain, the true source of real democratic legitimacy and accountability in the EU.

It is to the Bundestag that Angela Merkel has to answer. It is through the Greek Parliament that Antonis Samaras has to pass his Government’s austerity measures.

It is to the British Parliament that I must account on the EU budget negotiations, or on the safeguarding of our place in the single market.

Those are the Parliaments which instil proper respect – even fear – into national leaders.

We need to recognise that in the way the EU does business.

My fifth principle is fairness: whatever new arrangements are enacted for the Eurozone, they must work fairly for those inside it and out.

That will be of particular importance to Britain. As I have said, we will not join the single currency. But there is no overwhelming economic reason why the single currency and the single market should share the same boundary, any more than the single market and Schengen.

Our participation in the single market, and our ability to help set its rules is the principal reason for our membership of the EU.

So it is a vital interest for us to protect the integrity and fairness of the single market for all its members.

And that is why Britain has been so concerned to promote and defend the single market as the Eurozone crisis rewrites the rules on fiscal coordination and banking union.

These five principles provide what, I believe, is the right approach for the European Union.

So now let me turn to what this means for Britain.

Today, public disillusionment with the EU is at an all time high. There are several reasons for this.

People feel that the EU is heading in a direction that they never signed up to. They resent the interference in our national life by what they see as unnecessary rules and regulation. And they wonder what the point of it all is.

Put simply, many ask “why can’t we just have what we voted to join – a common market?”

They are angered by some legal judgements made in Europe that impact on life in Britain. Some of this antipathy about Europe in general really relates of course to the European Court of Human Rights, rather than the EU. And Britain is leading European efforts to address this.

There is, indeed, much more that needs to be done on this front. But people also feel that the EU is now heading for a level of political integration that is far outside Britain’s comfort zone.

They see Treaty after Treaty changing the balance between Member States and the EU. And note they were never given a say.

They’ve had referendums promised – but not delivered. They see what has happened to the Euro. And they note that many of our political and business leaders urged Britain to join at the time.

And they haven’t noticed many expressions of contrition.

And they look at the steps the Eurozone is taking and wonder what deeper integration for the Eurozone will mean for a country which is not going to join the Euro.

The result is that democratic consent for the EU in Britain is now wafer thin.

Some people say that to point this out is irresponsible, creates uncertainty for business and puts a question mark over Britain’s place in the European Union.

But the question mark is already there and ignoring it won’t make it go away.

In fact, quite the reverse. Those who refuse to contemplate consulting the British people, would in my view make more likely our eventual exit.

Simply asking the British people to carry on accepting a European settlement over which they have had little choice is a path to ensuring that when the question is finally put – and at some stage it will have to be – it is much more likely that the British people will reject the EU.

That is why I am in favour of a referendum. I believe in confronting this issue – shaping it, leading the debate. Not simply hoping a difficult situation will go away.

Some argue that the solution is therefore to hold a straight in-out referendum now.

I understand the impatience of wanting to make that choice immediately.

But I don’t believe that to make a decision at this moment is the right way forward, either for Britain or for Europe as a whole.

A vote today between the status quo and leaving would be an entirely false choice.

Now – while the EU is in flux, and when we don’t know what the future holds and what sort of EU will emerge from this crisis is not the right time to make such a momentous decision about the future of our country.

It is wrong to ask people whether to stay or go before we have had a chance to put the relationship right.

How can we sensibly answer the question ‘in or out’ without being able to answer the most basic question: ‘what is it exactly that we are choosing to be in or out of?’

The European Union that emerges from the Eurozone crisis is going to be a very different body. It will be transformed perhaps beyond recognition by the measures needed to save the Eurozone.

We need to allow some time for that to happen – and help to shape the future of the European Union, so that when the choice comes it will be a real one.

Real choice

A real choice between leaving or being part of a new settlement in which Britain shapes and respects the rules of the single market but is protected by fair safeguards, and free of the spurious regulation which damages Europe’s competitiveness.

A choice between leaving or being part of a new settlement in which Britain is at the forefront of collective action on issues like foreign policy and trade and where we leave the door firmly open to new members.

A new settlement subject to the democratic legitimacy and accountability of national parliaments where Member States combine in flexible cooperation, respecting national differences not always trying to eliminate them and in which we have proved that some powers can in fact be returned to Member States.

In other words, a settlement which would be entirely in keeping with the mission for an updated European Union I have described today. More flexible, more adaptable, more open – fit for the challenges of the modern age.

And to those who say a new settlement can’t be negotiated, I would say listen to the views of other parties in other European countries arguing for powers to flow back to European states.

And look too at what we have achieved already. Ending Britain’s obligation to bail-out Eurozone members. Keeping Britain out of the fiscal compact. Launching a process to return some existing justice and home affairs powers. Securing protections on Banking Union. And reforming fisheries policy.

So we are starting to shape the reforms we need now. Some will not require Treaty change.

But I agree too with what President Barroso and others have said. At some stage in the next few years the EU will need to agree on Treaty change to make the changes needed for the long term future of the Euro and to entrench the diverse, competitive, democratically accountable Europe that we seek.

I believe the best way to do this will be in a new Treaty so I add my voice to those who are already calling for this.

My strong preference is to enact these changes for the entire EU, not just for Britain.

But if there is no appetite for a new Treaty for us all then of course Britain should be ready to address the changes we need in a negotiation with our European partners.

The next Conservative Manifesto in 2015 will ask for a mandate from the British people for a Conservative Government to negotiate a new settlement with our European partners in the next Parliament.

It will be a relationship with the Single Market at its heart.

And when we have negotiated that new settlement, we will give the British people a referendum with a very simple in or out choice. To stay in the EU on these new terms; or come out altogether.

It will be an in-out referendum.

Legislation will be drafted before the next election. And if a Conservative Government is elected we will introduce the enabling legislation immediately and pass it by the end of that year. And we will complete this negotiation and hold this referendum within the first half of the next parliament.

It is time for the British people to have their say. It is time to settle this European question in British politics.

I say to the British people: this will be your decision.

And when that choice comes, you will have an important choice to make about our country’s destiny.

I understand the appeal of going it alone, of charting our own course. But it will be a decision we will have to take with cool heads. Proponents of both sides of the argument will need to avoid exaggerating their claims.

Of course Britain could make her own way in the world, outside the EU, if we chose to do so. So could any other Member State.

But the question we will have to ask ourselves is this: is that the very best future for our country?

We will have to weigh carefully where our true national interest lies.

Alone, we would be free to take our own decisions, just as we would be freed of our solemn obligation to defend our allies if we left NATO. But we don’t leave NATO because it is in our national interest to stay and benefit from its collective defence guarantee.

We have more power and influence – whether implementing sanctions against Iran or Syria, or promoting democracy in Burma – if we can act together.

If we leave the EU, we cannot of course leave Europe. It will remain for many years our biggest market, and forever our geographical neighbourhood. We are tied by a complex web of legal commitments.

Hundreds of thousands of British people now take for granted their right to work, live or retire in any other EU country.

Even if we pulled out completely, decisions made in the EU would continue to have a profound effect on our country. But we would have lost all our remaining vetoes and our voice in those decisions.

We would need to weigh up very carefully the consequences of no longer being inside the EU and its single market, as a full member.

Continued access to the Single Market is vital for British businesses and British jobs.

Since 2004, Britain has been the destination for one in five of all inward investments into Europe.

And being part of the Single Market has been key to that success.

There will be plenty of time to test all the arguments thoroughly, in favour and against the arrangement we negotiate. But let me just deal with one point we hear a lot about.

There are some who suggest we could turn ourselves into Norway or Switzerland – with access to the single market but outside the EU. But would that really be in our best interests?

I admire those countries and they are friends of ours – but they are very different from us. Norway sits on the biggest energy reserves in Europe, and has a sovereign wealth fund of over 500 billion euros. And while Norway is part of the single market – and pays for the principle – it has no say at all in setting its rules: it just has to implement its directives.

The Swiss have to negotiate access to the Single Market sector by sector. Accepting EU rules – over which they have no say – or else not getting full access to the Single Market, including in key sectors like financial services.

The fact is that if you join an organisation like the European Union, there are rules.

You will not always get what you want. But that does not mean we should leave – not if the benefits of staying and working together are greater.

We would have to think carefully too about the impact on our influence at the top table of international affairs. There is no doubt that we are more powerful in Washington, in Beijing, in Delhi because we are a powerful player in the European Union.

That matters for British jobs and British security.

It matters to our ability to get things done in the world. It matters to the United States and other friends around the world, which is why many tell us very clearly that they want Britain to remain in the EU.

We should think very carefully before giving that position up.

If we left the European Union, it would be a one-way ticket, not a return.

So we will have time for a proper, reasoned debate.

At the end of that debate you, the British people, will decide.

And I say to our European partners, frustrated as some of them no doubt are by Britain’s attitude: work with us on this.

Consider the extraordinary steps which the Eurozone members are taking to keep the Euro together, steps which a year ago would have seemed impossible.

It does not seem to me that the steps which would be needed to make Britain – and others – more comfortable in their relationship in the European Union are inherently so outlandish or unreasonable.

And just as I believe that Britain should want to remain in the EU so the EU should want us to stay.

For an EU without Britain, without one of Europe’s strongest powers, a country which in many ways invented the single market, and which brings real heft to Europe’s influence on the world stage which plays by the rules and which is a force for liberal economic reform would be a very different kind of European Union.

And it is hard to argue that the EU would not be greatly diminished by Britain’s departure.

Let me finish today by saying this.

I have no illusions about the scale of the task ahead.

I know there will be those who say the vision I have outlined will be impossible to achieve. That there is no way our partners will co-operate. That the British people have set themselves on a path to inevitable exit. And that if we aren’t comfortable being in the EU after 40 years, we never will be.

But I refuse to take such a defeatist attitude – either for Britain or for Europe.

Because with courage and conviction I believe we can deliver a more flexible, adaptable and open European Union in which the interests and ambitions of all its members can be met.

With courage and conviction I believe we can achieve a new settlement in which Britain can be comfortable and all our countries can thrive.

And when the referendum comes let me say now that if we can negotiate such an arrangement, I will campaign for it with all my heart and soul.

Because I believe something very deeply. That Britain’s national interest is best served in a flexible, adaptable and open European Union and that such a European Union is best with Britain in it.

Over the coming weeks, months and years, I will not rest until this debate is won. For the future of my country. For the success of the European Union. And for the prosperity of our peoples for generations to come.

David Cameron – 2012 Speech at the Paralympics Flame Ceremony


Below is the text of Mr Cameron’s speech on Friday 24 August 2012 at the lighting of the Paralympics Flame Ceremony at Trafalgar Square in London.

After a fortnight of Olympics withdrawal symptoms, it’s time to dust off the GB flags and get ready for two more weeks of spectacular sport. The London Paralympic Games 2012 are finally here.

Already this is looking to be an incredible event. Ticket sales have smashed records. Some sessions have been sold out for months. Our Paralympic venues are looking fantastic. Our team are geared up to beat the medal count they made in Beijing: 102 medals and second in the table.

Just like the Olympics we’re going to see international friendship, fierce rivalry and the sheer sporting genius of athletes who have trained day-in, day-out for years. But we can’t deny there’s something particularly inspiring about the Paralympics.

Why? Because being a Paralympian takes an extra measure of guts and steel. A lot of the athletes arriving in London would have been told from a young age about everything they can’t do – and they decided to throw everything into what they can do, whether that’s smashing a ball over the net, running on prosthetics or swimming faster than the rest.

That example – of overcoming the difficulties you’ve been handed, pushing yourself to the limits, going way beyond the expectations others have set for you – is truly inspiring.

So I want to wish everyone competing in these Games – and particularly ParalympicsGB – the best of luck. The whole country will be cheering you on.

David Cameron – 2012 Speech at Olympics Press Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, at a press conference at the Olympics on 26th July 2012.

It gives me great pride to welcome you all to London on this truly momentous day for our country. Seven years of waiting, planning, building and dreaming are almost over.

Tomorrow the curtain comes up, the spectators arrive and the Olympic and Paralympic Games 2012 can officially begin. I want to set out three things you’re going to see over the coming weeks.

Number one: you’re going to see beyond doubt that Britain can deliver. We’ve delivered this incredible Olympic Park on time, on budget and in real style. 46,000 people have turned a wasteland the size of Hyde Park into an extraordinary city town within one of the world’s most exciting cities.

Millions of cubic metres of soil have been excavated. Eight kilometres of waterways have been laid. A stadium, an aquatics centre, a velodrome have been built. According to Jacques Rogge, the athletes are ecstatic with the training venues – and he likes the facilities so much he’s staying here.

All around the park a new transport network has taken shape. Dozens of underground stations have been upgraded, capacity has massively increased and all of it is being overseen by a state-of-the-art Transport Co-ordination Centre.

And what’s so great about these Games is that we’ve built not just for the coming weeks – but the coming decades. When all the fireworks have died down and the athletes have gone home there is going to be a genuine legacy.

A physical legacy – with a new quarter of London for people to live and work in. An economic legacy – with businesses getting a big international boost to trade. And a sporting legacy – with people all over the country inspired to get active and get into sport.

So we’re delivering a world-class Games, a well-connected Games – and above all a secure Games. Our absolute top priority is keeping people safe. I have personally chaired regular security meetings in the run-up to this and I’m pleased to tell you that all plans – including detailed contingency plans – are in place.

There are extra police on the streets of London, in the skies above and in the waters of the Thames. We’ve got our intelligence services working round the clock. And I am proud too that we have some of our finest men and women – our armed forces – guarding the Olympics venues.

This is the biggest security operation in our peacetime history, bar none, and we are leaving nothing to chance. All of this goes to show what we can achieve as a country.

And it sends out this powerful message to the world: If you’re looking for a great place to do business, to invest, to work, to study, to visit – then look no further than Great Britain.

The second thing you’re going to see here is a real sense of community. We always said the success of these Games wasn’t just about what Government does or what business does – it’s about our people and the welcome they give to the world.

We want this to be the friendly Games – and already we’re seeing that. When the call went out for Olympics volunteers, a quarter of a million people came forward. 70,000 of them were chosen.

On top of that, 8000 Londoners are acting as Ambassadors for this city. Between them they are volunteering for 8 million hours. So this is not a state-run Games, it’s a people-run Games. It’s about the people of the UK showing a really warm welcome – and showing respect to all the teams and nationalities who come here.

On that note, it’s right that in 2012 – 40 years on from the Munich Olympics – we remember the Israeli team members who were killed there. We will be properly marking the anniversary of that tragedy with a special commemoration and every day of these Games we’ll be demonstrating that there is no more diverse, more open, more tolerant city in the world than this one.

The third – and most important – thing you’re going to see and feel over these coming weeks is that infectious spirit of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Beyond all the grand ceremonies and great displays, we’ve got to remember what this is all about.

The athletes up at dawn to train. The swimmers in the pool day-in, day-out for years. The children who dream and make it big. The people who come from nothing to represent their nation. Their efforts are the heart of this Games.

Right at the heart of the Village, the words of the British poet Tennyson have been engraved. They read: ‘To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.’ It’s about never giving up, pushing yourself to the limits, relentlessly pursuing glory and greatness – the best of human endeavour. And it’s this spirit that is going to shine out from London.

We want this to be the Games that lifts up a city, that lifts up our country and that lifts up our world, bringing people together. So we are delighted to host you here in London today and I hope you have a fantastic Games over the coming weeks.

David Cameron – 2012 Transcript of Q&A at Zayed University, Abu Dhabi



Good afternoon, Prime Minister.  My question is, you mentioned about the long-term relationship that England has with the UAE and the investments that the UAE has had with the United Kingdom.  What are some examples of future endeavours that the United Kingdom might participate  in with  the UAE in the near future?

Prime Minister

Thank you.  Well I think we are standing in a good example of one.  You obviously are going to be building fantastic universities like this one, to provide great education for future students.  I think one of the strengths that Britain has is a very strong university sector, not just Oxford and Cambridge and University College London, London School of Economics, but also all of the universities in Britain: Newcastle, Durham, Edinburgh; these are all excellent institutions.

And I think we need to do more, not only to encourage students from the Emirates to study in Britain and let me just make the point that there is no limit on the number of people who can study at a British university; as long as you have a basic English language qualification and a place at a British university, there is no limit on the numbers.

But I think also we should be smarter in making sure that our universities and your universities are co-operating, collaborating, setting up campuses in each other’s countries, and actually using the internet as well to have a distance learning programme.  So I think that there are all the traditional things our countries have done together, obviously in the oil and gas industries, in infrastructure and building, but I think we now need to go to the next level, looking at cooperation in things like education, the creative industries, there is obviously a lot more to do in financial services.  But I think we need to be more creative about the partnerships we can form for the future.


So you were talking about how strong our countries are and the relationship between them.  Can you please comment on the EU resolution and why Britain is sort of putting pressure on the UAE in terms of human rights and, in specific, women’s rights?

Prime Minister

Well thank you very much for that question.  First can I compliment you on the fact that it seems to me from looking around that almost more than three quarters of the students at this university are women?  And I think many countries could learn a lot from how well you are doing at making sure there are good education programmes and good equality of access.

Let me directly answer the question about human rights.  My country very strongly believes that giving people both a job and a voice is vital for creating stable, prosperous societies, and we have a history of supporting human rights around the world.  Now that does not mean that we preach or lecture; different countries take different pathways to becoming more open societies.  We should be respectful of the different journey that countries are taking.  We should be respectful of different traditions, different cultures.

But I do think that standing up for human rights and standing up for the right of people to have a job and a voice around the world is important, and I think this is a discussion that our countries can have.  Nothing is off-limits in the relationship that we have.  When you are close friends, close partners, it is quite like a family; you have to be able to discuss the difficult things as well as the easy things.  And that is the sort of relationship that we have.  But as I say, it is one that is based on mutual respect and understanding, and it is not a relationship based on lecturing or hectoring.


My question is that both the NATO and the UN have been under a lot of criticism lately, so you as a prime minister, what do you think they should do to re-evaluate their role as peacekeepers or guardians [in Syria]?

Prime Minister

I think it is a very important point.  The United Nations plays a vital role in our world.  Of course, it is not perfect, and of course one can make criticisms of it.  But it is the only thing we have at a global level that can actually try to lay down some rules and some resolutions and stand up for oppressed people around the world.

And what saddens me is that when it comes to Syria, I think the United Nations has failed the world.  Because in the case of Libya, countries saw what Colonel Gaddafi was doing, that he was murdering and brutalising his own people.  And at the United Nations, we were able to pass a very strong resolution condemning that appalling brutality, and then an alliance of like-minded countries was able to act and to help the people of Libya get rid of this brutal dictator.

And that alliance of countries around the world included countries in the Gulf such as the United Arab Emirates, such as Qatar, and it was also fully endorsed by the Gulf Cooperation Council; it was fully endorsed by the League of Arab Nations.  I think this was an important moment for the world when we saw that if there is political will, then the United Nations can do a good and vital job.

But I think in the case of Syria, I am afraid that the United Nations has let the world down, and that is really because two of the permanent members, China and Russia, have not been prepared to see a really strong resolution that condemns what Assad has done to his own people, and that supports proper political transition in Syria.  Because that is what is required.

I worry that when the history books are written and maybe not in many years from now people will look back and say, ‘Why could we not do more when we see 20,000, 30,000, 40,000 people losing their lives?’  So I am determined that we go on pushing at the United Nations for tougher resolutions, for tougher action against Syria.  And like-minded countries like our two countries should go on working together, trying to see what more can we do to help the Syrian people to throw off this brutal dictator who is murdering so many of his fellow countrymen.

When you watch the television now and you see helicopters, aeroplanes, bombing from the air whole districts of whole towns and cities, you know that Bashar Assad cannot possibly stay running his country.  There are no circumstances in which he could be part of a transition for a peaceful Syria.  So he has to go.  But it is sad that the United Nations has not been able to play as leading a role as I would have liked over this vital issue.


Prime Minister, I would like to ask you, given the current economic status of the UK, how do you see the relationship with the UAE going further?

Prime Minister

Well I would argue that the thing about our two countries is that we need each other.  We are actually quite complementary economies.  Clearly, this year, you have very successful growth here in the UAE; you have bounced back from the global problems of 2008, and it is hugely impressive.  And in Britain, we are finding it harder going; we had a very big banking sector that suffered very badly at that collapse, we had a big budget deficit which we are having to pay down.  We paid down a quarter of that deficit in two years, but our growth is not as fast as yours.

But where I think our economies are so complementary is that because you are a big oil-producing nation, you have a surplus to invest I think countries like Britain that are very open, very welcoming of countries like yours to come and invest, I think that is a good output for your investment.  And likewise, Britain needs to trade its way out of recession.  It needs to link up with the fastest-growing economies of the world.  50% of our exports go to Europe, and clearly those are going to have a difficult time, as the European economies are struggling.  But 50% of our exports go to the rest of the world, and if you think of our exports to your country, in the last six months in the first six months of this year they are up 16%.  We are well on course to double our trade and investment, as we promised some years ago.

So I think our two economies are very complementary.  We are making a lot of goods and services that people in the UAE want to buy.  We are a great home for investment from your country.  And as I am going to be arguing, debating this week with your government, I think there is a lot more collaboration that we can do over, for instance, projects like defence, where it should not anymore be a question of one country simply selling items to another country, but two countries collaborating, working together, transferring technology, setting up joint projects, investing together for the future.  And it is that sort of relationship that I think we can have between Britain and the United Arab Emirates.


Good afternoon, Prime Minister.  My question is on energy sustainability.  I would like to know, what is Britain’s strategic direction in collaborating with the United Arab Emirates in that field?

Prime Minister 

Well I think this is a really vital question for all economies around the world, as after a while, we will see hydrocarbons, oil and gas begin to peak and then to turn down.  But I think it is a particularly important question for the United Kingdom, because we have been quite a substantial producer of oil and gas from the North Sea, but that is now past its peak and beginning to decline.

And so our energy policy is to make sure that we have a diversity of supply, so we have a nuclear industry, and we are re-investing in that nuclear industry, civil nuclear power, with new nuclear power stations.  We have the largest amounts of renewable energy in Europe in terms of tidal power and offshore wind power, and we are harnessing that through a system of subsidies which is going to build offshore wind farms and wave energy projects.

So our vision is one where there is a balanced energy policy: some nuclear, some renewables, and then also obviously gas which we will be producing some ourselves, but we now are major importers of gas from particularly Qatar, but also elsewhere.  And so we think we will have a balanced energy policy.  But I think what all countries have to understand is that as we move to electric vehicles from petrol vehicles we are going to see a big increase in electricity demand.  And so if we want to meet targets for reducing carbon emissions, we have to recognise that as electricity demand grows, we must try and meet more of that demand, either from nuclear or renewable sources, or, where necessary, from gas.  But where possible, we should be looking at carbon capture and storage projects.

And I think what is interesting about this is we must not see this as only a cost and an obligation.  We should see it as an opportunity.  All countries will have to move to greener forms of energy, so the first countries that can produce new batteries for cars, the first countries that can harness wave and wind power, the first countries that do better at storing electricity: these countries will have a massive competitive advantage as the world moves towards more renewable forms of electricity.

And I would like to pay tribute to your government and your country, because as far as I can see, you are not just resting on the laurels of having a very successful oil and gas industry; you are also big investors into renewable technologies, into the green technologies of the future.


What is your next step in Arab Spring countries?

Prime Minister 

It is a short question but it will have to be a long answer, I am afraid: what is your next step in Arab Spring countries?  I mean, let me be frank.  I am a supporter of the Arab Spring.  I think that the opportunity of moving towards more open societies, more open democracies, I think is good for the Middle East, for North Africa.  I say this as someone who is a liberal conservative: I think we should respect the different traditions and pathways that countries take, we should not think that all countries are the same, and we should not also think that just being an open society means just holding election and that is it.

What I think is important in these countries is what I call the building blocks of democracy: the rule of law, rights for women, a free press.  Putting in place these building blocks and moving towards more open societies I think is good for these, good for countries, particularly in countries like Libya, where there was a particularly brutal dictatorship.  So their need for change was all the greater.

Now I know that a lot of people will say, ‘Look at the results of the Arab Spring’.  They will worry, have we replaced one form of tyranny and dictatorship with the problems of extremism?  And my answer to that is, we must judge these new governments by what they do.  If these new governments take sensible steps to reform their economies, to open their societies, to guarantee people a job and a voice, we should support them.  But if they take steps towards political or religious extremism, then we should say that is not the right path.

So we should not be naïve: the Arab Spring is not just going to lead to instant transformation, but I think it gives people an opportunity, particularly in countries where they were completely denied it, it gives people an opportunity of a better prospect of a job and a voice.  So I think it will be a difficult period.  There will be ups and downs: sometimes countries will take two steps forward and one step back.  But the idea of more open societies, more open economies, I think is a good one.


My question is, the European Union has been under a lot of critical threats lately, and Britain, although it is protected from these threats, it is still vulnerable.  How much latitude does your government have in protecting itself from the economic crisis?

Prime Minister

It is a very good question.  The short answer is that all the European economies, whether they are part of the euro single currency, like France and Germany and Spain and Italy, or whether they have their own currencies, like Britain, all of us will be affected by what is happening in the eurozone.  Because, as I said, about 50% of our trade goes to the European Union; about 40% goes to eurozone countries.  So if Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece – if those economies are suffering, that will have an effect on the UK.

But I think what lies behind your question is important, that does it advantage Britain having our own currency?  Yes, I think it does.  Because at least in responding to the economic difficulties of recent years, we have seen our own currency depreciate, which has meant that we have had a greater opportunity to try and trade our way out of difficulty. And that is why my government spends so much time trying to link up with the fastest growing countries in the world.  I have led trade missions to Brazil, to Russia, Indonesia, China, India, Malaysia, and now the United Arab Emirates, although I would hasten to add this was the first country I visited as Prime Minister, and I am back already in two and a half years.

So we have that opportunity to do that, and we are also members of the single market.  So we have the whole of the European market open to us, but clearly, the problems in the eurozone are going to take time to resolve.  And because they take time to resolve, every country that trades with Europe is going to notice that effect.  Why does this take so long?  Well it is because if you put 17 countries with 17 different histories and 17 different economies into one single currency, that does create tensions and pressures.  That would be the same if you attempted a single currency across the Gulf, you would find tensions and pressures.

And that is what the eurozone is going through at the moment.  On the one hand, they know that they have to transfer more sovereignty and power towards some central authority, to make their single currency work.  But they know that is very difficult, because that is asking people to give up an element of their sovereignty and their democracy.

So there is a struggle going on at the heart of the eurozone which will create tensions and pressures.  Britain is better off outside the eurozone, but we will be affected by what happens there.


What is the greatest challenge you face as Prime Minister?

Prime Minister

The greatest challenge?  Thank you.  I think the greatest challenge for a prime minister probably for me definitely the greatest responsibility I feel is for our armed services who are serving in Afghanistan.  And I feel very acutely the challenge that there are 9,000 mostly British men, but some British women, serving in a very difficult country and very difficult conditions, and I am responsible for their safety.

I think what we are doing in Afghanistan is right and I am very proud of the fact that Emiratis are serving alongside British soldiers in Afghanistan.  Because we have to remember that that country, when it was so badly broken that the Taliban took over, it became a haven for the training of terrorists.  It became part of the world centre for extremism and terrorism.  And the whole world has suffered from that.

And so it is important the work that we are doing, to try and build up the Afghan government, the Afghan army, the Afghan police, Afghan society, so it is a country capable of running itself.  But that is probably the biggest single challenge, because that is the biggest single responsibility.


My question is, what can we do as university students?  Because we still face stereotypes against us, especially as women.  So what can we do to build these bridges between two nations and cultures?

Prime Minister

Well I think it is a very good question.  I think probably the best thing is more exchanges between universities.  I mean, to me, the point of university is to open your mind, to open your mind to fresh thinking, to fresh ideas, to challenge some of the ideas that you start with.  And if that is the point of university, then the greatest amount of exchange with different universities, different students, different cultures, seems to me a thoroughly good thing.  And I think you are so well placed to do that here in the UAE.  Your country is a hub where people come and travel here from all over the globe.  And so I think there is a great opportunity for student exchanges.

I was in Nottinghamshire; Nottingham, a city in my country, has opened a university in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, and it is a remarkable campus.  I did an event a bit like this at this university, and I think only 50% of the students are from Malaysia; the rest are from India, from China, from Brazil, from the Philippines, and then many students from Britain.  Lots of people at Nottingham university go and spend a whole year at this campus in Malaysia.

And I remember speaking to these students and answering their questions, and thinking that this was a brilliant institution that is going to connect up East and West.  And I think the challenge in our world; as I said, we are in this global race, this global competition, and if we are going to succeed as countries, we need to take the best of everyone.  And so I think opening up universities to those sorts of exchanges will make a difference, and then I think you can challenge those stereotypes yourselves.


My question is regarding security.  Recently Iran, I should say, has been on a big move, causing an uproar in the Gulf regions, especially in the nuclear department.  And my question is, how much of a threat do you think Iran could possibly be?  Also I would like to get your opinion on foreign policies, taking part in other countries’ affairs.

Prime Minister

Well let us start with Iran, that is a big enough question to deal with.  I think to answer your question directly, I think Iran does pose a threat.  In two ways: first of all, if Iran is embarked on trying to acquire a nuclear weapon, as I believe it is, that is a threat in itself, particularly given what Iran has said about other countries in the region, and in particular, about Israel, about wanting to wipe it off the map.

So I think in itself, it is a hugely concerning development, a desperately bad development for our world, and that is why we should do everything we can to stop it happening.  But I think there is a second reason why it is so concerning, and that is, I think it could trigger a nuclear arms race across the whole region, and that would consume a huge amount of resources in energy, but also I think make the Middle East a more unstable, more dangerous part of the world.

So I think for all those reasons, it is right for like-minded countries to do everything they can to try and persuade the Iranians to take a different course.  And I pay tribute to your country here, particularly the emirate of Dubai, who I believe 25% of their trade was with Iran, and that has now gone to almost zero.  So Dubai has, and the Emirates have played their part in the very tough sanctions that we put in place on Iran.  My country has played its part, the European Union has an oil embargo, this is having, I think, a big effect on the Iranian economy, they have noticed the damage that it is doing.

But really the message to Iran should be this: it is not acceptable for you to have a military nuclear path, but we are quite prepared for you to have a civilian nuclear path; if you want access to civilian nuclear power in order to diversify your supplies of energy, that is perfectly acceptable.  And the message we need to say to Iran is there is a peaceful path; there is a path that you can take that will remove the pariah status from your nation, and that is to accept that you can have civil nuclear power but not military nuclear power.  And then we can have a proper discussion about how to normalise relations between Iran and the rest of the world.  But while they keep pursuing this nuclear path, I think it is very important that countries like ours keep up the pressure, keep up the sanctions and keep up the work in persuading Iran to take a different path.

Now the last point of your question, what about what we do in other countries.  This is a huge issue of debate and controversy, and fundamentally, we should respect countries’ national sovereignty, we should respect each other’s choices.  I do believe in a world of nation states, a world of nation states, though, cooperating with each other.

But there are occasions when something happens within a country of such huge consequences for its people that the world has to sit up and, I believe, act.  And I think Libya was such a case.  Colonel Gaddafi was – his forces were bearing down on Benghazi, he said he was going to shoot those people like rats, and I think it is right that the world acted.  And I think the world does need, as I have said about Syria, to do more, particularly at the United Nations.

So I do not believe you can draw an absolute rule.  But the basic presumption is that we are world of nation states, a world where we should respect each other’s sovereignty and a world where damaging that sovereignty is not right.


What is your message for us students of Zayed University?

Prime Minister

Well I suppose my message ought to be work hard; that is part of it, obviously.  I think you have an enormous opportunity to be a student in your country at this time.  Your country has travelled this extraordinary path from the 1970s to today.  You are not just an oil-producing nation with oil-related wealth; you have created a diverse economy which has got incredible connections to the rest of the world.

And I think the challenge for the next generation is what do you do with that inheritance?  How do you further diversify your economy?  How do you go on, I believe in your interests, having very strong relations with Western countries like the United Kingdom, but also, how do you grow all your relationships with some of the emerging countries of the South and the East?

You can be quite a pivotal, influential country, both in this region, and in the wider world, and I think you should obviously work hard and study hard while you are here, but think about what you can contribute to the future of this extraordinary country.  But I hope a big part of that will be in partnership with countries like the United Kingdom, for all the reasons that I have given.


I have a question regarding democracy.  In terms of the need of good government, is democracy the only answer?

Prime Minister

I that I think that all countries benefit if they give their people the chance of a job and a voice and a way of participating in their country.

And I believe all countries are on a path; we should respect the different paths that countries are on, and the different traditions as I have said.  But I think countries that put in place what I call the building blocks of democracy and open societies, I think in the end will be the most successful countries, because then you harness all the abilities, all the enthusiasms, of your people, and also you give them a way of making decisions and being consulted over decisions that can actually allow them to speak out and to make that clear.

Where I think people can make a mistake, and perhaps in the West, some have made a mistake in the past, is the idea that the very act of holding an election, that is enough.  I think that is completely wrong.  You know, democracy is not just about every five years having a vote and then nothing else.  What matters for, I think, the long-term success of a country is all of the building blocks that you put in place.

Do you have the access of women to university?  Do you have equal treatment under the law?  Do you have courts and a rule of law that work properly?  Is there a proper place for the military in your country?  All of these are important questions, as well as the issue of elections.  And I think we need to explain that, because otherwise we can sound a little naïve by just saying, all that matters is an election.

Clearly there are lots of countries in the world that have elections that are not very free countries.  So I think it is looking at all of the aspects of what I call the building blocks of open societies.  And I think that is a very important part of all countries’ progress, because as I say, different paths, different timetables, different tracks, and we should show respect for different countries, particularly when it so clearly is the case in, for instance, the country we are in today, where there is clearly a government that takes very seriously the consent and concerns of its people.

I gave a speech to the United Nations about this issue saying that it is the building blocks that matter most of all.  And that is what I think can build genuinely open societies and open economies, which I think are in the interests of both governments and people.

David Cameron – 2012 Speech on Crime and Justice


Below is the text of a speech made by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, on crime and justice on Monday 22nd October 2012.

Two weeks ago, I spoke about this Government’s mission: to build an aspiration nation, where those who work hard can get on – and no one gets left behind. A stronger private sector. Welfare that works. Schools that teach.

Today I want to talk about another, critical, part of helping people to rise up and that is confronting the crime and bad behaviour that holds so many people down.

Go to some neighbourhoods in our country and you can feel that aspiration is dead. Children learning from a young age that life is about surviving, not thriving. Gang leaders as role models, drug dealers as career advisors. This doesn’t just matter to the elderly lady with five bolts on her door or the woman terrified to walk home in the dark. It matters to all of us.We will not rise as a country if we leave millions behind and write off whole communities.

So today I want to tell you about our approach to crime and justice – and the bold, unprecedented action we’re taking.

For many people, when it comes to crime I’m the person associated with those three words, two of which begin with ‘H’, and one of which is ‘hoodie’; even though I never actually said it. For others, I’m the politician who has argued frequently for tough punishment. So do I take a tough line on crime – or a touchy-feely one?

In no other public debate do the issues get as polarised as this. On climate change you don’t have to be in denial on the one hand or campaigning to get every car off the road on the other. Life isn’t that simple – so government policy isn’t that simple. And yet with the crime debate, people seem to want it black or white.

Lock ‘em up or let ‘em out. Blame the criminal or blame society. ‘Be tough’ or ‘act soft’.

We’re so busy going backwards and forwards we never move the debate on.

What I have been trying to do – in opposition and now in government – is break out of this sterile debate and show a new way forward: tough, but intelligent. We need to be tough because the foundation of effective criminal justice is personal responsibility.

Committing a crime is always a choice. That’s why the primary, proper response to crime is not explanations or excuses, it is punishment – proportionate, meaningful punishment.

And when a crime is serious enough, the only thinkable punishment is a long prison sentence. This is what victims – and society – deserve.

Victims need to know the criminal will be held to account and dealt with. And the ‘society’ bit really matters: retribution is not a dirty word, it is important to society that revulsion we all feel against crime is properly recognised. But punishment is what offenders both deserve and need, too. It says to them: “You are adults. Your actions have consequences.”

To treat criminals as victims – to say they had no choice – is to treat them like children. I firmly believe in their right to be treated as adults, with the responsibility to carry the consequences of their actions. But that’s not the whole story.

Just being tough isn’t a successful strategy in itself. Come with me to any prison in this country. There you’ll meet muggers, robbers, and burglars. But you’ll also meet young people who can’t read, teenagers addicted to drugs, people who’ve never worked a day in their whole lives.

These people need help so they can become part of the solution and not remain part of the problem. Recognising this isn’t soft, or liberal. It’s common sense.

We’ll never create a safer society unless we give people, especially young people, opportunities and chances away from crime. Prevention is the cheapest and most effective way to deal with crime – everything else is simply picking up the pieces of failure that has gone before. That’s part of what I mean by being intelligent as well as tough.

Not just saying what people want to hear, not playing to the gallery, but thinking hard about dealing with the causes of crime as well as the fall-out. And today, being intelligent has got to mean something else too. Achieving our ambitions when there is much less money than there used to be. The politics of the blank cheque are well and truly over.

The only way to achieve our ambitions is reform – radical, intelligent reform. So much of what went wrong in public services previously wasn’t because the money was missing, it was because the methods were wrong.

Top-down, bureaucratic, centralising. Judging every service by the money you put in rather than by the service you got out.

Our whole reform agenda is about turning this on its head.

Going from big government to big society; more choice, more competition, more openness. You see it in welfare providers paid by results and hospitals publishing their results online.

Some say, this is fine in welfare, fine with hospitals or fine with schools, but it won’t work in criminal justice. They think when it comes to keeping people safe, we’ve got to stick with the old, state-heavy approach. I believe that’s wrong.

It was the old approach that gave us police stuck behind desks filling in forms. It left us with the criminal justice system chasing ridiculous, unhelpful targets. And it left us with sky-high re-offending rates.

So we are bringing the logic of our public service reform agenda – transparency, payment by results, accountability – to transform criminal justice too. Because every part of that system needs change. Every part needs tough, but intelligent reform.And today, I want to explain how that’s working, right through the criminal justice system.

Let’s start with the police. I am profoundly grateful for the job our police officers do.

Years ago I used to run near Wormwood Scrubs every morning, and on my route there was a small stone monument. It said: ‘Here fell PS Christopher Head; PC Geoffrey Fox; PC David Wombwell, 12th August 1966’; and it was a daily reminder of this single truth: Police officers put on their uniform in the morning, kiss their children goodbye, and leave home having no idea about the dangers they might face.

Just a few weeks ago, Police Constables Nicola Hughes and Fiona Bone answered a 999 call without knowing where it would lead. And though PC Ian Dibell was off-duty, he too could not have imagined what he would come up against. These people were professional, brave, instinctively selfless. The same can be said of thousands of police officers who work on our streets, protecting our families day-in, day-out.

All of us owe them our thanks. All of us owe them our respect. And for all those who wear the uniform, it’s essential we get policing right. For years police officers were held back from doing the job they signed up for. We had targets like the ‘Offences Brought to Justice Target’ which encouraged police to chase easy wins.

I remember being out on the beat with a police officer in South Wales and he felt he had to book a boy for taking some money from his mum’s purse – rather than just a stiff talking to down at the nick. That’s what the culture and targets demanded. He knew it was ridiculous. Everyone knew it was ridiculous. But the targets forced his hand. And then there was the out-of-control bureaucracy.

Police officers spending almost half their shift on paperwork. So Theresa May is doing what so many Home Secretaries before her shied away from; fundamentally reforming the police and allowing them to get on with the tough, no-nonsense policing that they want and we want.

We’ve scrapped all the targets and given them a single, core objective – to cut crime.We’ve ended micro-management from Whitehall and returned professional discretion to local forces.

The notion that you had to fill out a form every time you stopped someone on the street – it’s gone.The endless looking up for instruction from some official in the Home Office – it’s over. And we’re going further; reforming police pay so it rewards crime-fighting, not just time served; and changing the leadership of the police too.

Our reforms are comprehensive, they are sophisticated – and they are working.

HMIC – the independent regulator – found that even at a time of tight budgets, the frontline is being protected. The number of neighbourhood police officers is up. Public satisfaction is up and crime is down. And if you like official figures, here they are.

Even though in real terms, central police spending cuts are around 20 per cent over four years, the latest figures – out at the end of last week – show that crime is down 6 per cent in the last year.

We can have tough policing when money is tight. And we’re bringing intelligent reform too. More accountability and transparency to put people in charge of policing. That’s what Police and Crime Commissioners are all about.

These are big, important elections coming up. It’s the first time they are being held. People are going to be voting in their own law and order champion: One person who sets the budgets; sets the priorities; hires and fires and Chief Constable; bangs heads together to get things done.

Some people are saying that no one’s bothered, that people aren’t interested in how we fight crime in their area. I don’t agree. I say look at crime maps and you come to a conclusion.

They said no one would care about transparency – but this website has had 500 million hits and counting.

The more high profile Police and Crime Commissioners get, the more engaged people will be – and the more pressure they’ll put on them to deliver tough local policing.

So my message for these elections is clear: If you want more tough policing, you can get it.If you want coppers who are on the beat, on your street, cracking down on anti-social behaviour, focussing on the things you care about, then don’t just talk about it, get out on November 15th and vote for it.Intelligent reform is happening at the national level too, with the National Crime Agency.

This is, if you like, Britain’s version of the FBI; recognising that there are some highly serious and organised crimes – human trafficking, money laundering, drug rings – that need the very best in terms of national co-ordination.

The next part of the criminal justice chain is prosecution and here again we need tough, but intelligent reform.

Too often the story’s the same. Someone gets arrested in the middle of the night. They’re bailed. It takes months before they appear in court. Then the day dawns and they’ve disappeared.

It’s why you get whole walls of police stations papered with pictures of people missing on bail. But we saw with the riots last summer it doesn’t have to be like that. Justice was swift and it was tough – and we want that all the time.

So we’re opening our courts earlier in the morning, in the evenings and weekends; because crime doesn’t keep normal working hours and neither should our criminal justice system. Already this is happening in 48 courts across the country.

Another innovation is video links between police stations and courts. If someone is arrested, the police can flick the switch on a monitor and get them in front of a magistrate in hours rather than months. So no bail to jump and no cracks to slip through.

And we need to toughen up the process in court too.

Today, once the verdict is passed, the defendant can stand in the witness box and make their case for a more lenient sentence; but too often the victim doesn’t get a say. The one person whose life has been torn apart is kept silent.

We want to give more victims the chance to be heard – to say how their life has been affected by the crime. And to back that up we will be appointing a new Victims’ Commissioner to make sure that victims’ voices are heard not just in court but right at the heart of government.

We need intelligent reform, too, to open up our whole justice system. Today it’s all too closed, opaque, unaccountable.

We hear second hand what sentence a criminal is getting. Wouldn’t it be better if we could hear and watch the result and the reasoning – directly?

So we are legislating to start televising the sentences that Judges deliver, so that people can hear why a decision has been reached directly from the Judge.

This will start in the Court of Appeal next year, and in the long-term we want to see this happening in the Crown Court too.

When those criminals are convicted, we need to make sure the punishment fits the crime. At every single level of sentence this Government is getting tougher.

Where fines used to be limited, with us magistrates will be able to impose unlimited fines. While the maximum compensation that criminals used to be liable for was £5000, we are uncapping it. If you cost someone £10,000 or £20,000, you should potentially have to pay that back.

And we are toughening up community sentences too.

Having a monthly meeting with your probation officer is hardly a punishment – so tomorrow in Parliament, something important is happening. We are laying amendments to the Crime and Courts Bill, making sure that every community sentence contains an element of punishment.

And this tough change is aligned with an intelligent reform.

We’re introducing new GPS satellite tagging that can pin-point exactly where offenders are. Making it literally impossible to duck under the radar.

If you’re on a community sentence, you will be supervised. You will be properly punished. And you will be forced to complete that sentence.Of course, for many crimes, only one form of punishment will do – and that is prison.

I want to be clear. I want to see people who ruin the lives of others – rapists, murderers, muggers – behind bars, and kept there for a long time.

I’ve always supported the principle of the life sentence.

You do something heinous – and for the rest of your life you are either in prison or on licence and subject to recall if you step out of line. I don’t believe that’s old-fashioned, it is vital, so we are increasing life sentences.

A new two strikes and you’re out rule means that if you commit two serious sexual or violent offences, you get life. Not at the Judge’s discretion – but mandatory life.

We are creating a new maximum sentence of life for those who import guns and death onto our streets. And we are looking too at toughening up knife sentences, because to me a caution for carrying a knife just does not seem enough.And for anyone sentenced to a spell in prison, there will be space in prison. There will be no arbitrary targets for our prison population.

The number of people behind bars will not be about bunks available, it will be about how many people have committed serious crimes.

Once they are inside prison, we’re toughening up the regime.

Too many prisoners see out their time by just lying on their beds for hours and hours, watching TV, doing nothing, learning nothing. So we are turning those prisons from places of idleness into places of work.

Like HMP Manchester, where prisoners work in the laundry or printing workshop for up to 40 hours a week. I saw myself today a number of programmes where it is possible for prisoners to work and earn.

This is about fit and able people getting out of their cells, having a structured day, earning respect and earning privileges. And when they earn money, we’ll be making them pay a chunk of it back to their victims too.

So on the punishment of criminals – I don’t want there to be any doubt that we will be tougher. But it’s not good enough just being tough, locking people up and thinking: that’s it.

We need to be intelligent too, about what happens to these people during and after their punishment. And here’s why.At the moment, six out of ten of those leaving jail are reconvicted within two years. If you think that figure’s depressing, try this.

While those in the care system account for just one per cent of children, a quarter of those in prison were in care as children.

Half the prison population say they have no qualifications. We have got to give these people a chance. Not just for their sake, but for ours. To stop that revolving door that sucks millions of pounds of public money in and spits thousands of unreformed offenders out.

We’ve tried just banging people up and it’s failed.

We’ve tried letting people out with £46 in their pocket and no help on the outside and guess what? They’ve gone back to their old ways.

So I’m not going to try and out-bid any other politician on toughness, saying “let’s just bang them up for longer, let’s have more isolation, and once they’re out they’re on their own.”

I say: let’s use that time we’ve got these people inside to have a proper positive impact on them, for all our sakes.

It’s not a case of ‘prison works’ or ‘prison doesn’t work’ – we need to make prison work. And once people are on the outside, we’ve got to stick with them, and give them proper support, because it’s not outer space we’re releasing these people into – it’s our streets, our towns, among our families and our children.

That’s why this Government is engaged in what can only be described as a rehabilitation revolution – led by the new Justice Secretary Chris Grayling.

His main, driving mission is this: to see more people properly punished, but fewer offenders returning to the system.

To achieve that, we’re saying to charities, companies and voluntary organisations – come and help us rehabilitate our prisoners. Give offenders new skills. Educate them.

If they’ve been in a gang, send a reformed gang member to meet them at the prison gates and take them under their wing. If they’re on drugs, try the latest techniques to get them clean.

Do whatever it takes to get these people back living decent, productive lives. We will pay you for that; but – and it is a major but – once again the payments will depend on results.

We’re going to pay people by the lives they turn around. Just think of what this means for the taxpayer.

When this Government came to power we were spending £40,000 a year (per person) just on banging people up. With payment by results, your money goes into what works: prisoners going straight, crime coming down, our country getting safer.

It’s such a good idea I want to put rocket boosters under it; indeed today I have an announcement to make.

By the end of 2015, I want to see payment by results spread right across rehabilitation. Of course, there will be some high-risk offenders for whom this is not appropriate but this approach should be the norm rather than the exception. And I want to see rehabilitation reach more of those who would benefit from it.

Today, rehab just goes to those who have been inside for a year or more. But that misses all those who go in for shorter sentences yet re-offend time and time again. So I want to look at making them part of the rehabilitation revolution too.

I’ve touched on all the parts of the criminal justice chain, from policing to prison but where we need the most intelligent reform is prevention: stopping all this happening in the first place.

The riots last summer were a stark warning that parts of our society are broken. They told us we need to intervene much earlier in the story, before the jail cell, before the robbery, before the petty theft.

As the CSJ has argued so passionately, having a strong family is absolutely vital to people’s life chances and we believe that too. Strengthening families, strengthening partnerships, strengthening marriages, encouraging commitment are all part of our agenda.It’s why we’re shaking up fostering and adoption, ending the scandal that left children languishing in the care system for years.

It’s why we’ve re-focussed Sure Start centres – with more parenting classes, reaching out to the parents who really need support. And it’s why we’re bringing new help for the most 120,000 troubled families, the ones that live in a constant cycle of poverty, addiction and hopelessness.

For these families we’re bringing in professional, targeted help to get them into work, get the kids in school, help bring some order to their chaotic lives. And prevention means something else.

Some of those rioters last summer showed a complete indifference to the rules. We need to make clear to young people that respect is not something you can just expect, it’s something you earn.

So we’re bringing real discipline to schools – with teachers having more power to use reasonable force and take control of their classroom. And crucially, we’re focusing on those children who have been excluded from school.

Some Pupil Referral Units have been little more than a nursery class before the juvenile detention centre. So we’re turning failing PRUs into Academies, just as we are with failing schools, so that powerful, effective sponsors can bring the same radical improvements to them, as to some of the most challenged schools in the country.

On the other side of the coin we’re doing more to encourage good behaviour. National Citizen Service is about showing young people that they have responsibilities as well as rights, that they have a stake in our society.

Tens of thousands took part this year, and it is a personal passion of mine that in the coming years this should become a permanent part of the landscape in our country, a rite of passage that every teenager in every school goes through.

And all this fits into the bigger, broader picture of what this Government’s doing.

Whether it’s changing welfare so there’s no more something for nothing or putting the law on the side of victims and not criminals, we are re-scoring that line between right and wrong; between good behaviour and bad.

So I don’t want there to be any doubt how serious this Government is about law and order. Yes, we are tough – but we’re being intelligent too.

Not just giving police more power but giving people more power.

Not just speeding up our courts but opening them up.

Not just punishing but rehabilitating too.

By taking this approach we can cut crime even while cutting budgets. We can show law-abiding people that finally, the system is on your side.

And we can go to all those communities where life felt like a dead-end. Where crime felt inevitable; and we can restore hope and opportunity there too.

This is our goal. An aspiration nation. Where no one is left behind. And we are absolutely determined to achieve it.