Boris Johnson – 2017 Statement to Parliament on Zimbabwe

Below is the text of the statement made by Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, to the House of Commons on 15 November 2017.

In the early hours of this morning, soldiers from the Zimbabwean army deployed in central Harare, taking control of state television, surrounding government ministries, and sealing off Robert Mugabe’s official and private residences.

At 1:26am local time, a military officer appeared on state television and declared that the army was taking what he called “targeted action” against the “criminals” around Mugabe. Several government ministers – all of them political allies of Grace Mugabe – are reported to have been arrested.

At 2:30am gunfire was heard in the northern suburb of Harare where Mugabe has a private mansion. Areas of the central business district have been sealed off by armoured personnel carriers.

Our Embassy in Harare has been monitoring the situation carefully throughout the night, supported by staff in the Foreign Office. About 20,000 Britons live in Zimbabwe and I can reassure the House that so far we have received no reports of any British nationals being injured.

We have updated our travel advice to recommend that any Britons in Harare should remain in their homes or other accommodation until the situation becomes clearer. All of our Zimbabwean and UK-based embassy staff and their families are accounted for.

And I will say frankly to the House that we cannot tell how developments in Zimbabwe will play out in the days ahead – and we do not know if this marks the downfall of Mugabe or not. We call for calm and restraint.

The events of the last 24 hours are the latest escalation of months of brutal infighting within the ruling ZANU-PF party, including the sacking of a vice-president, the purging of his followers and the apparent positioning of Grace Mugabe as a contender to replace her 93-year-old husband.

Honourable Members on all sides of the House have taken a deep interest in Zimbabwe for many years – and I pay tribute to the courage and persistence of the Honourable Member for Vauxhall, who has tirelessly exposed the crimes of the Mugabe regime, visiting the country herself during some of its worst moments.

And this country – under governments of all parties – has followed the same unwavering principles in our approach towards Zimbabwe.

First and foremost, we will never forget our profound ties of history and friendship with that beautiful country, accurately described as the “jewel of Africa”.

In that spirit, all that Britain has ever wanted is for Zimbabweans to be able to decide their own future in free and fair elections.

Mugabe’s consuming ambition was always to deny them that choice. The House will remember the brutal litany of his 37 years in office: the elections he rigged and stole, the murder and torture of his opponents, the illegal seizure of land, leading to the worst hyperinflation in recorded history – measured in the billions of percentage points – and forcing the abolition of the Zimbabwean Dollar.

And all the while, his followers were looting and plundering a richly-endowed country, so that Zimbabweans today are, per capita, poorer than they were at independence in 1980, leaving many dependent on the health care, education and food aid provided by DFID.

Britain has always wanted the Zimbabwean people to be masters of their fate, and for any political change to be peaceful, lawful and constitutional.

Authoritarian rule, whether in Zimbabwe or anywhere else, should have no place in Africa. There is only one rightful way for Zimbabwe to achieve a legitimate government and that is through free and fair elections, held in accordance with the country’s constitution.

And these elections are due to be held in the first half of next year, and we will do all we can, with our international partners, to ensure this provides a genuine opportunity for all Zimbabweans to decide their own future. That is what we shall urge on all parties, and I will speak to the Deputy President of South Africa later today.

Every Honourable Member will follow the scenes in Harare with goodwill and sympathy for Zimbabwe’s long-suffering people, and I undertake to keep the House updated as events unfold.

Boris Johnson – 2017 Statement on Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Campaign Against Daesh

Below is the text of the statement made by Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, in the House of Commons on 7 November 2017.

Mr Speaker, with your permission, I will make a statement updating the House on the campaign against Daesh in Iraq and Syria.

But I should like to begin by informing the House that I called the Iranian Foreign Minister, Mr Zarif, this morning to discuss the case of Mrs Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. I expressed my anxiety about her suffering and the ordeal of her family and I repeated my hope for a swift solution.

I also voiced my concern at the suggestion emanating from one branch of the Iranian judiciary that my remarks to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee last week had some bearing on Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case.

The UK government has no doubt that she was on holiday in Iran when she was arrested last year – and that was the sole purpose of her visit.

My point was that I disagreed with the Iranian view that training journalists was a crime, not that I wanted to lend any credence to Iranian allegations that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been engaged in such activity. I accept that my remarks could have been clearer in that respect and I’m glad to provide this clarification.

I’m sure the House will join me in paying tribute to the tireless campaigning of Mr Ratcliffe on behalf of his wife and we will not relent in our efforts to help all our consular cases in Iran.

Mr Zarif told me that any recent developments in the case had no link to my testimony last week and he would continue to seek a solution on humanitarian grounds. I will visit Iran in the coming weeks where I will discuss all our consular cases.

I turn now to the campaign against Daesh.

In the summer of 2014, Daesh swept down the Tigris and Euphrates valleys, occupying thousands of square miles of Iraqi territory, pillaging cities, massacring and enslaving minorities, and seeking to impose by pitiless violence a demented vision of an Islamist utopia.

Daesh had gathered strength in eastern Syria, using the opportunity created by that country’s civil war to seize oilfields and carve out a base from which to launch their assault on Iraq. Today, I can tell the House that Daesh have been rolled back on every battlefront.

Thanks to the courage and resolve of Iraq’s Security Forces, our partners in Syria, and the steadfast action of the 73 members of the Global Coalition, including this country,

Daesh have lost 90% of the territory they once held in Iraq and Syria – including Raqqa, their erstwhile capital – and 6 million people have been freed from their rule.

When my Rt Hon Friend the former Defence Secretary last updated the House in July, the biggest city in northern Iraq, Mosul, had just been liberated.

Since then, Iraqi forces have broken Daesh’s grip on the towns of Tal Afar and Hawija and cleared the terrorists from all but a relatively small area near the Syrian border, demonstrating how the false and failed ‘caliphate’ is crumbling before our eyes.

The House will join me in paying tribute to the men and women of the British armed forces, who have been vital to every step of the advance.

Over 600 British soldiers are in Iraq where they have helped to train 50,000 members of the Iraqi Security Forces and the RAF has delivered 1,352 air strikes against Daesh in Iraq and 263 in Syria – more than any other air force apart from the United States. I turn now to Syria where, on 20 October, the Global Coalition confirmed the fall of Raqqa after 3 years of brutal occupation.

The struggle was long and hard; I acknowledge the price that has been paid by the Coalition’s partner forces on the ground and, most especially, by the civilian population of Raqqa. Throughout the military operation, the Department for International Development has been working with partners in Raqqa Province to supply food, water, health care and shelter wherever possible.

On 22 October, my Rt Hon Friend the International Development Secretary announced another £10 million of UK aid, in order to clear the landmines sown by Daesh, restock hospitals and mobile surgical units with essential medicines, and provide clean water for 15,000 people.

The permanent defeat of Daesh in Syria – by which I mean removing the conditions that allowed them to seize large areas in the first place – will require a political settlement and that must include a transition away from the Asad regime that did so much to create the conditions for the rise of Daesh.

How such a settlement is reached is, of course, a matter for Syrians themselves and we will continue to support the work of the United Nations Special Envoy, Staffan de Mistura, and the Geneva process.

I am encouraged by how America and Russia have stayed in close contact over the future of Syria and we must continue to emphasise to the Kremlin that instead of blindly supporting a murderous regime – even after UN investigators have found its forces guilty of using sarin nerve gas, most recently at Khan Shaykoun in April – Russia should join the international community and support a negotiated settlement in Syria under the auspices of the UN.

Turning to Iraq, more than 2 million people have returned to their homes in areas liberated from Daesh, including 265,000 who have gone back to Mosul. Britain is providing over £200 million of practical life-saving assistance for Iraqi civilians.

We are helping to clear the explosives that were laid by Daesh, restore water supplies that the terrorists sabotaged, and give clean water to 200,000 people and health care to 115,000.

Now that Daesh is close to defeat in Iraq, the country’s leaders must resolve the political tensions that – in part – paved the way for its advance in 2014.

The Kurdistan Region held a unilateral referendum on independence on 25 September, a decision we did not support. Since then, Masoud Barzani has stepped down as President of the Kurdistan Regional Government and Iraqi forces have reasserted federal control over disputed territory, including the city of Kirkuk.

We are working alongside our allies to reduce tensions in northern Iraq; rather than reopen old conflicts, the priority must be to restore the stability, prosperity and national unity that is the right of every Iraqi.

A general election will take place in Iraq next May, creating an opportunity for parties to set out their respective visions of a country that overcomes sectarianism and serves every citizen, including Kurds.

But national reconciliation will require justice, and justice demands that Daesh are held accountable for their atrocities in Iraq and elsewhere. That is why I acted over a year ago – in concert with the Government of Iraq – to launch the global campaign to bring Daesh to justice.

In September, the Security Council unanimously adopted UN Resolution 2379, a British-drafted text – co-sponsored by 46 countries – that will establish a UN investigation to help gather and preserve the evidence of Daesh crimes in Iraq.

Every square mile of territory that Daesh have lost is 1 square mile less for them to exploit and tax and plunder, and the impending destruction of the so-called ‘caliphate’ will reduce their ability to fund terrorism abroad and attract new recruits.

Yet Daesh will still try to inspire attacks by spreading their hateful ideology in cyberspace even after they have lost every inch of their physical domain.

That’s why Britain leads the Global Coalition’s efforts to counter Daesh propaganda, through a Communications Cell based here in London, and Daesh’s total propaganda output has fallen by half since 2015.

But social media companies can and must do more, particularly to speed up the detection and removal of dangerous material and prevent it from being uploaded in the first place, hence my Rt Hon Friend the Prime Minister co-hosted an event at the UN General Assembly in September on how to stop terrorists from using the internet.

The government has always made clear that any British nationals who join Daesh have chosen to make themselves legitimate targets for the Coalition. We expect that most foreign fighters will die in the terrorist domain they opted to serve but some may surrender or try to come home, including to the UK.

As the government has previously said, anyone who returns to this country after taking part in the conflict in Syria or Iraq must expect to be investigated for reasons of national security. While foreign fighters face the consequences of their actions, the valour and sacrifice of the armed forces of many nations – including our own – has prevented a terrorist entity from taking root in the heart of the Middle East.

I commend this statement to the House.

Boris Johnson – 2017 Speech at Chatham House

Below is the text of the speech made by Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, at Chatham House on 23 October 2017.

Good morning everybody, it is fantastic to be here in this wonderful hotel, that I think that I opened or reopened. I opened many hotels across London in my time as Mayor and I definitely reopened this hotel at one stage and this is after all an example of the kind of infrastructure that you were just talking about Robin. It is an inspirational structure that was created many, many decades ago, over a hundred years ago, and it has been beautifully upgraded and it has stood the test of time and that is what I want to talk about this morning.

All you young, thrusting Chatham House types look far too dynamic to remember the early 1980s or indeed the late 1970s. Do you? I certainly do.

I remember being chilled to the marrow not just by the newspaper graphics, the hundreds of nuclear missiles trained on this country by the Warsaw Pact.

Scarier still were the attempts by the UK government to reassure the population, the pamphlets and films that told you such things as how to build a fallout shelter.

You took several doors off their hinges and propped them up diagonally against a wall, reinforced by suitcases full of books, and then you were told to tune to Radio 4, where the contingency plan was to play endless re-runs of Just a Minute.

And there really was a time when British children knew all about the 4-minute warnings, and the perils of radiation sickness, and we all read a book called Where the Wind Blows by Raymond Briggs, and brooded, as I did as a teenager, on the horror of those weapons.

For decades now that threat has seemed to vanish. It went with the end of the Cold War.

We don’t want it back.

That is why people are now watching with such interest – and the first stirrings of apprehension – the events in the Korean Peninsula.

Kim Jong Un has tested 19 missiles so far this year, and has conducted 4 of the 6 nuclear tests ever carried out by that country.

It is now widely accepted that Kim is coming closer to being able to launch a nuclear-armed ICBM at the continental United States.

I should stress that this has not only prompted outrage in America, but it is a prospect that has been unanimously condemned by Russia, by China, by the EU, to say nothing of the dismay of those quintessentially peaceable countries – Japan and South Korea.

It is this increased tempo of nuclear testing, coupled with florid outbursts of verbal belligerence, that have reawakened – even in this country – those forgotten fears.

The public can be forgiven for genuinely starting to wonder whether the nuclear sword of Damocles is once again held over the head of a trembling human race.

So now is perhaps a good moment, in a calm and dispassionate way, to take stock.

Before we reissue that old pamphlet called ‘Protect and Survive’, before we teach our kids how to hide under the desks or lay on stocks of baked beans or spam, let us look at the history of nuclear proliferation, how nuclear weapons have spread, and how we have collectively sought to contain their spread.

Back then, as now, most predictions were gloomy – and yet those gloomy predictions have been utterly confounded by events.

America was of course the first to use the bomb, in 1945; then the Soviet Union detonated a device at Semipalatinsk in 1949; then we were next, the UK, in 1952; then the French did their test in the Sahara in 1960.

At that point the then American presidential candidate, John F Kennedy, predicted that by 1964, within only 4 years, there would be 10, 15 or 20 nations that would acquire nuclear weapons.

As things have turned out, it is now almost 60 years after he issued his warning – and yes, the NPT has some notable non-signatories including India and Pakistan; and yet the number of nuclear-armed countries has yet to reach double figures.

This is on the face of it an absolutely astonishing statistic and an extraordinary achievement.

When you consider that every previous military development – from firearms to fighter jets – has spread among humanity like impetigo, you have to ask yourselves: why? Why have nuclear weapons been the great exception?

It can’t just be the kit. They can’t be so complex that only a handful of so-called advanced nations have the intellectual wherewithal to make them.

It is true that the process is laborious and highly expensive – but the basic technology is more than 70 years old and indeed has been taught in universities – if not schools – for decades, for generations.

The answer is partly that many countries wisely decided, after the war, that they were going to take shelter under the nuclear umbrella provided by the United States.

Nations in both Europe and in Asia opted for this protection, a commitment that must be rated one of the greatest contributions by America to the unprecedented epoch of peace and prosperity that we have all been living through.

I should observe that some European countries found themselves under a rival umbrella provided by the Soviet Union, though at that stage they had no choice in the matter.

And it was that American offer – that guarantee – that made possible the global consensus embodied by the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

By this treaty 191 countries came together to recognise the special role of the 5 existing nuclear powers, and also to insist that there should be no further dispersal of such weapons.

Nuclear technology would be made available to other countries, provided it was used exclusively for civilian purposes.

That was a great diplomatic achievement.

It was an effort in which the UK – as one of the leading upholders of the post-war rules based international order – played a crucial role.

That diplomacy has helped to make the world safer, more secure, more confident and therefore more prosperous.

It has helped avoid what might otherwise have been a Gadarene Rush to destruction, in which the world was turned into a great arena of Mexican stand-offs, a nuclear version of the final scene of Reservoir Dogs.

That far-sightedness is now needed more than ever, not only to keep the NPT, but also one of its most valuable complementary accords, the nuclear deal with Iran.

To grasp the importance of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, we should remember that just before it was signed in 2015, Iran had enough centrifuges and low-enriched uranium to be only months away from producing the essential material for at least one nuclear weapon.

Let us remember what the consequences would have been – for Iran and the world – if Tehran had gone down that road.

Never mind the response of Israel, or indeed the United States to the fact of nuclear weapons in the grip of the Iranians, a regime that has been capable of blood-curdling rhetoric about the mere existence of the ‘Zionist entity’.

A nuclear-armed Iran would have placed irresistible pressure on neighbouring countries to up the ante, and to trigger an arms race in what is already one of the most volatile regions of the world.

Imagine all those mutually contaminating sectarian, dynastic and internecine conflicts of the Middle East today. Then turn the dial, and add a nuclear arms race.

Think of the nightmare that deal has avoided.

It is a nightmare we can continue to avoid if we are sensible, if we show the same generosity and wisdom as the negotiators of the NPT.

And first and most important it is vital to understand that President Trump has not withdrawn from the JCPOA. He has not junked it.

He has continued to waive nuclear-related sanctions against Iran, and having spoken to some of the most influential figures on Capitol Hill – none of them fans of the Iranian regime – I have absolutely no doubt that with determination and courage the JCPOA can be preserved.

This is not just because the essential deal is in the interests of Western security – though it is – but because it is profoundly in the interests of the Iranian people.

This is a great nation, of 80 million people – 2 thirds of whom are under the age of 30.

They are highly educated, both men and women.

They watch Youtube; they dance to music videos, even if it is in the privacy of their own home.

They use and understand technology and they are bursting with a capitalist and entrepreneurial spirit.

If we can show them that they are welcome in the great global market-place of ideas and innovation then, in time, a very different relationship is possible with the modern heirs, of what is after all, one of the greatest of all ancient civilisations.

That is the possibility the JCPOA holds open – not just averting a perilous and debilitating arms race, but ending the long and largely self-imposed exclusion of Iran from the global mainstream that so many millions of Iranians yearn to join.

Of course, we in the UK, we share with our American friends and with many of our allies – in Europe and across the Middle East – their legitimate concern over the disruptive behaviour of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in countries hundreds of miles from their borders.

It is simply provocative and dangerous that Iran has supplied tens of thousands of rockets and missiles to Hizbollah in Lebanon – weapons that are even now pointing at Israel – but whose use would bring the most destructive retaliation not upon Iran – the responsible party – but upon the people of Lebanon.

It is no conceivable benefit to the tormented people of Yemen that Iran should be supplying missiles that Houthi rebels use routinely to strike targets in Saudi Arabia; behaviour which alas can only strengthen the convictions of those in the region who believe they have no choice but to respond to Iran’s actions.

And frankly it’s astonishing that the Iranians – who rightly complain that the world looked the other way when they suffered so tragically from the chemical weapons deployed by Saddam Hussein in the 1980s – should even now be abetting and concealing the crimes of Bashar al-Asad who has used the same methods against his own people.

So I think it’s right that we should join with our American friends and allies to counter this kind of behaviour wherever possible.

But that does not mean for one minute that we should write Iran off, or that we should refuse to engage with Iran or that we should show disrespect to its people.

On the contrary, we should continue to work to demonstrate to that population in Iran that they will be better off under this deal and the path of re-engagement that it prescribes.

And that is the model – of toughness but engagement, each reinforcing the other – that we should have at the front of our mind as we try to resolve the tensions in the Korean Peninsula.

It is right that Rex Tillerson has specifically opened the door to dialogue.

He has tried to give some sensible reassurances to the regime, to enable them to take up this offer.

Remember the 4 Noes – that have been offered by the South Korean president and reinforced by the US Secretary of State.

No seeking regime change in North Korea; No seeking to force the collapse of North Korea’s regime; No seeking to deploy US forces beyond the 38th parallel; No attempt to accelerate the reunification of Korea.

These are the commitments that we hope will encourage Kim Jong Un to halt his nuclear weapons programme, to come to the negotiating table, and thereby to take the only path that can guarantee the security of the region as a whole. You will often hear it said that in weighing up those options Kim must bear in mind the woeful precedents of those who disarmed.

Of Libya, where the leader listened to the blandishments of the West and gave up his nuclear weapons programme – only to be overthrown with Western connivance.

Or of Ukraine, which actually surrendered its nuclear arsenal, only to suffer the first forcible loss of territory in Europe since 1945.

It is therefore suggested that Kim would be sealing his own fate if he were to comply.

I reject those analogies.

What finished Gaddafi was an uprising of his own people, including on the streets of Tripoli.

Even if he had been able to perfect a nuclear arsenal in time, and even if it is true he had a justified reputation for mercurial and unpredictable behaviour, it seems unlikely that he would have decided to nuke his own capital – including himself.

As survival strategies go, that would have been eccentric even by his own standards.

As for Ukraine, the fundamental difference is that no one, not South Korea nor any other neighbour, has any designs on the national territory of North Korea.

And the crucial question Kim Jong Un surely needs to ask himself is whether his current activities are making Pyongyang any safer for himself and his regime.

No one, I’m sure no one in this room, certainly no one in the UK or around the world wants any kind of military solution to the problem. No one actively desires that outcome.

But Kim Jong Un and the world need to understand that when the 45th President of the United States contemplates a regime led by a man who not only threatens to reduce New York to “ashes”, but who stands on the verge of acquiring the power to make good on his threat, I am afraid that the US President – whoever he or she might be – will have an absolute duty to prepare any option to keep safe not only the American people but all those who have sheltered under the American nuclear umbrella.

And I hope Kim will also consider this: that if his objective is to intimidate the US into wholesale withdrawal from East Asia, then it strikes me that his current course might almost be designed to produce the opposite effect.

Already President Moon of South Korea – hitherto seen as one of the political leaders most open to engagement with the North – is installing the US-made THAAD missile defences.

And in Japan and South Korea it is easy to imagine the growth of domestic pressure for those governments to take further steps to protect their own populations from a nuclear North Korea.

In short Pyongyang faces the same dilemma as Tehran:

By continuing to develop nuclear capabilities Kim risks provoking a reaction in the region that is at once defensive and competitive, that reduces not increases his security and therefore reduces not increases the survival chances of the regime.

And therefore I hope that Kim will see that it is no part of Juche – his family doctrine of national self-reliance – nor is it in his interest of national security to end up with an escalation of America’s military presence in East Asia, let alone to run risks that could imperil his regime.

And until he understands that I am afraid that we have no choice collectively but to step up the pressure on Pyongyang.

It is one of the most encouraging developments this year that the UN Security Council – with the strong support of the UK – has unanimously passed three resolutions to tighten the economic ligature around the regime.

When I joined a debate on North Korea in the Security Council earlier this year, I was struck by the unaccustomed absence of discord.

For the first time the Chinese have agreed to impose strict limits on the export of oil to North Korea, which until now was taboo.

There has been an unmistakable change in Chinese policy, and that is warmly to be welcomed.

In his speech to the 19th Party Congress last week, President Xi hailed China’s standing as a world power

And I would say there is no more urgent problem for China to address – nor any where Beijing has greater influence – than the threat to international security represented by the behaviour of North Korea.

There is also unprecedented discussion between China and the US on how to handle this crisis, a closeness, by the way, that I believe bodes well for the world; and I should again pay tribute to my colleague Rex Tillerson for his efforts.

Whatever we may think of the regime and its behaviour, the ruling elite of North Korea is in the end composed of human beings.

We must find ways of getting through to them, and at the same time not just toughening the sanctions regime but enforcing those already in place; and in this respect again, the Chinese hold the key.

This is the moment for North Korea’s regime to change course – and if they do the world can show that it is once again capable of the diplomatic imagination that produced the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty – arduously negotiated – and that after 12 years of continuous effort produced the JCPOA nuclear deal with Iran.

It will not be easy, but the costs of failure could be catastrophic.

We cannot dis-invent nuclear weapons or wish them away; and the events on the Korean Peninsula are the clearest possible rejoinder to those who say that we should unilaterally cast aside our nuclear weapons.

To wield a nuclear deterrent, as this country does, is neither easy nor cheap; indeed it imposes a huge responsibility on this country.

We are one of the handful specifically recognised by the NPT to possess such dreadful weapons, and we do so not just in the name of our own security but – via NATO – for the protection of dozens of our allies.

And by holding that stockpile – a minimum stockpile, I should say, which has been reduced by half since its Cold War peak – we play our part in deterring the ambitions of rogue states.

It is 25 years since the end of the Cold War, and a new generation has grown up with no memory of the threat of a nuclear winter, and little education in the appalling logic of mutually assured destruction.

Hiroshima, Nagasaki. Their destruction, the full horror of what took place is now literally fading from living memory.

When people like Alun Chalfont drew up the NPT, those horrors were still fresh in the hearts of the world.

We must not be so forgetful or so complacent as to require a new lesson in what these weapons can do, or the price of failing to limit their spread.

The NPT is one of the great diplomatic achievements of the last century. It has stood the test of time.

In its restraint and its maturity it shows an unexpected wisdom on the part of humanity, and almost evolutionary instinct for the survival of the species.

It is the job of our generation now to preserve that agreement, and British diplomacy will be at the forefront of the endeavour.

Thank you all very much for your attention.

Boris Johnson – 2017 Speech at Conservative Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester on 3 October 2017.

Good afternoon.

As our hearts go out to Las Vegas today we are reminded once again of the attack that took place here only a few months ago, on innocent and music-loving young people. And if there is a message to our American friends it is this: that they will come through it and they will come back from it stronger.

Because this city has shown that nothing and no one can bow the indomitable spirit of the people of Manchester, which in recent years has reinvented itself as the great thrumming engine of the northern powerhouse.

With its vast potential to generate jobs in finance, in academia, in journalism and the arts – and that’s just the ones held by George Osborne.

And since our subject this afternoon is how to win the future and build Global Britain I want to introduce our superb foreign office team.

Our PPSs Conor Burns and Amanda Milling and our whip David Evenett.

And our ministers : covering the Middle East – already one of the most expert parliamentarians in that field – Alistair Burt, and covering Africa Rory Stewart.

Like the pharaohs of upper and lower Egypt they are double hatted ministers in the sense that they simultaneously represent the FCO and DFID – bringing together our foreign policy with our aid programmes.

In the Lords we have Tariq Ahmad, who is working on ensuring that next year in London we make the most of an institution that takes 2.4 billion people and 52 of some of the fastest growing economies in the world and unites them in admiration of the service provided by Her Majesty the Queen – the Commonwealth.

And we will have a summit to do her justice.

And just back from Burma – making clear this country’s disgust at the treatment of the Rohingya – Mark Field.

And dynamically triangulating between Europe and America decoding President Trump for President Juncker and vice versa.

We have that Mount Rushmore of wisdom Sir Alan Duncan.

We have a great team and we are getting on with the job and yet frankly, folks, as I absorb the general tone of the national conversation I don’t think I have ever known so many to be sunk in gloom and dubitation about Britain and the world.

Every week I pick up British-edited international magazines, of the kind that you will find in the briefcases of jet setting consultants.

Glossy-covered, elegantly written, suspiciously unread.

And every week these publications have found new reasons to be slightly less than cheerful about this country.

Every day a distinguished pink newspaper manages to make Eeyore look positively exuberant and across the world the impression is being given that this country is not up to it. That we are going to bottle out of Brexit and end up in some dingy ante-room of the EU, pathetically waiting for the scraps but no longer in control of the menu.

And the most pessimistic of them all is not the media or our friends in the EU commission or the excitable M Guy Verhofstadt – far from it – it’s Jeremy Corbyn.

That Nato bashing, trident scrapping, would-be abolisher of the British army whose first instinct in the event of almost any international outrage or disaster is to upend the analysis until he can find a way of blaming British foreign policy.

And whose response to the grisly events in Venezuela is to side with the regime – simply because they are fellow lefties.

He says he still admires Bolivarian revolutionary socialism.

I say he’s Caracas.

At a time when the world should unite to condemn Venezuela’s Maduro, we have the leader of Britain’s official opposition giving cover to a government that is jailing opponents, shooting demonstrators, intimidating journalists and repressing human rights.

It is a disgrace – and I can tell you there are many Labour MPs who feel appalled that their party is still led by this man and his peculiar belief – expressed in glutinous victory-style Chavista rallies up and down the country – that he somehow won the election.

He didn’t win.

You won – we won.

Theresa May won.

She won more votes than any party leader and took this party to its highest share of the vote in any election in the last 25 years and the whole country owes her a debt for her steadfastness in taking Britain forward as she will to a great Brexit deal.

Based on that Florence speech on whose every syllable, I can tell you the whole cabinet is united.

Of all the areas where Corbyn is content to talk this country down, there is none more ludicrous and vacillating than his policy on Brexit.

In the customs union one week, out the next, in the single market, out the next.

In out, in out.

Faster than one of those members of the shadow cabinet who gets sacked before she knows she has even been appointed.

A kind of manifestation of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle.

It would be disastrous.

And in leaving Britain in this limbo – locked in the orbit of the EU but unable to take back control. Unable to do proper free trade deals.

Labour would inflict a national humiliation on a par with going cap in hand to the IMF.

And yes, I know: in making these sorts of points we come up against a difficulty we must accept that when we talk about the 1970s we imagine people instantly understand about power cuts, the three day week, union bosses back in Downing Street, state-made-British rail sandwiches.

We think they get the reference but unfortunately going back to the 1970s sounds to too many people like a massive joint revival concert by David Bowie, Led Zep and the Rolling Stones.

And that is because people can remember the Stones and Bowie and Led Zep, monuments of global culture but they have totally forgotten that those bands, along with so many other wealth creators were driven overseas by Labour’s 83 per cent tax rate.

They have forgotten that the problem used to be the brain drain, not people wanting to hear.

They have forgotten that we had to fight and win battles of ideas and in a way that is entirely understandable – because our victory has been so comprehensive.

If you listen to the aspirations of the young people I meet around the world, you will find there is not a single successful global economy that would dream of implementing the semi-Marxist agenda of McDonnell and Corbyn of nationalisation and state control.

And wherever you find enterprise and initiative and start-ups and innovation and economic growth it is where people have followed ideas that were pioneered by our party and by our country- and in this city of Manchester –

From India,

to China,

to Vietnam,

to Thailand,

Where free markets and deregulation and privatisation have helped lift more people out of poverty than ever in history.

To the central and east European economies that this party – and not the Labour party – helped on the path to freedom and democracy.

You see it in Estonia, tech hub with a high degree of social protection – where they have a flat tax of 20 per cent.

In Romania they have a flat tax of 16 per cent and free health and education AND higher education.

In Hungary they have a tax rate of 15 per cent – 15 per cent?

We are all tax-cutting Tories but even I think that is going a bit far. And yet how crazy it is that a quarter of a century after the working people of these former Soviet bloc countries risked their lives to throw off the shackles of socialism – while the Labour left sneered at them and made excuses for their oppressors -the shadow leader and shadow chancellor are seriously proposing to put place the British people back in bondage – a £200bn renationalisation programme. A display of economic masochism that would do incalculable damage to the future of our children.

That’s the difference between this Conservative party and the Labour party.

We want a country with a government that works for everyone.

Corbyn wants a Britain where everyone works for the government.

This battle of ideas is not lost in memories of the 1970s.

It is back from the grave.

Its zombie fingers straining for the levers of power and that is why we cannot rest.

We may have the most illustrious battle honours of any political party but now we have to win the battle for the future and the way to win the future is not to attack the market economy, not to junk our gains but to make it work better – make it work better for the low paid – turning the living wage under this Conservative government into a national living wage.

Make it work for all those who worry their kids will never find a home to own – building 100s of 1000s of homes.

Make it work better for parents who can’t find good enough childcare – with 30 hours free care for 3 and 4 year olds.

And above all help people who are struggling, by driving benefit reforms that have helped millions back into the dignity and self-esteem that goes with having a job and which has seen inequality fall – as the Chancellor pointed out yesterday – to the lowest levels for 3 decades.

And to win the future we must communicate once again the central idea,

Our one nation conservatism that, for all its faults, an open free-trading and thriving market economy is the only sustainable way to create the wealth we will always need to help the poorest.

The surest way to finance the platform of great public services and great infrastructure that themselves enable business to succeed.

And the only way to win the future is not to retreat from the world, not to abandon globalisation but to play our part, as we always have, in making the world safer and freer – and therefore more prosperous and that is why we must believe in global Britain. Not dismiss the very notion of a world role – as Corbyn does but accentuate and be proud of that role.

There are places where it is simply our moral duty to British passport holders, like the overseas territories in the Caribbean where those islands have been overwhelmed by the biggest catastrophe for 150 years.

It is an eerie scene.

Not a leaf remaining on the shattered trees.

Houses turned into streaks of wooden and plastic litter.

Boats hurled on top of one another or lodged absurdly up hillsides.

Of all the disasters in my lifetime, none has overturned the lives of so many UK nationals and yet we should pay tribute to the indomitable spirit of those islanders and together with Priti Patel and Michael Fallon the government will work to put them back on their feet.

And still our responsibilities go wider.

When we protect the world we protect British interests as well.

When we campaign for the stability of the south china seas, that is because through the narrow pulsing jugular of the Malacca straits – only 1.7 miles wide – goes fully 25 per cent of world trade including huge quantities of British goods.

Across the Middle East and North Africa we are helping to bring peace and defeat terrorism.

Not just because that is right in itself but because these will be the great markets of the coming century.

Just in the last few weeks I have seen British troops training the Nigerian forces to defeat the numbskulls of boko haram around Maiduguri – where British doctors are tending the maimed victims of terror and as our helicopter swooped over the burned and deserted villages they said there was a risk of pot-shots from behind, and I said it was an occupational hazard in my line of work.

And every week, with UK help, the brave Nigerian forces are winning but you can’t just tackle the problem in Nigeria. Those terrorists’ AK47s are being smuggled down through the desert from the chaos of Libya and in Tripoli I have seen the charred ruins of our embassy – the smashed snooker table and the room where Tony Blair once held a banquet.

But I was proud to run that Union Jack back up the flagpole and that embassy is being be rebuilt.

And if we in the UK can help solve the problems of Libya – and we are making progress – then that country can also win a great a future.

And until we sort it out you will find British ships off the Libyan coast, helping our Italian friends to cope with illegal migration.

And that is what I mean by Global Britain, committed as team players and where necessary as leaders to the protection of the world and our common European home.

I have seen the 800 British troops in Estonia and congratulated them on resisting the honey traps allegedly placed in their way by Russian intelligence. At least they said they had resisted. They are a visible and powerful symbol of this country’s unconditional commitment to defend the boundaries of Europe and the incredible freedoms we won in the 1980s and 1990s.

And I can’t tell you how much our friends value Britain’s contribution, in Europe and around the world because we have reached a unique phase in our history.

We are big enough to do amazing things.

We have the ability to project force 7000 miles, to use our permanent membership of the UN sec council to mobilise a collective response to the crisis in North Korea.

We contribute 25 per cent of European aid spending and yet no one seriously complains that we have a sinister national agenda and that is why the phrase global Britain makes sense because if you said Global China or global Russia or even alas Global America it would not have quite the same flavour.

I am not saying that everyone automatically loves us or that everyone completely follows our sense of humour, though a lot more than you might think. But there is a huge desire out there for us to engage with the world more emphatically than ever before.

And after Brexit that is what our partners are going to get as this country is freed from endlessly trying to block things in Brussels committee rooms. Freed to stop being negative and to start being positive about what we believe in – including free trade.

And yes we are leaving the EU – but as the PM has said in her Florence speech we can create a deep and special partnership built on free trade with a strong EU buttressed and supported by a strong UK.

And since it is manifestly absurd to argue that European values or culture or civilisation are somehow defined or delimited by the institutions of the EU, we will be no less European.

Britain will continue to be European in culture, geography, history, architecture, spiritually, morally, you name it.

We are one of the great quintessential European nations. In many ways the most influential of all and that is because our most important exports are our values. British values. Embodied in this amazing metropolis of Manchester as they are in London and across the country.

A society that welcomes talent. That welcomed my ancestors from France, Russia, Turkey and heaven knows where. That is proud of the EU and other nationals that want to come here and that have enriched our lives. A society that does not judge you for where you come from or your background or how you live your life provided you do no harm to others that is the syncretic genius of our country.

And it is thanks to that intellectual cross-fertilisation that Britain is at the cutting edge of new markets and new technology. Think back to how we have changed the world just in our lifetimes, and then imagine what we will have done in 40 years time, your lifetime – William Hague’s lifetime.

We are going to crack global warming, with British clean technology and British green finance – in which we lead the world.

We will get to a point where we generate as much clean energy as we want and eventually we will stabilise our world populations and raise per capita GDP above all by promoting female education – which is at the heart of all British overseas policy – and we should be proud of the young women and girls that we are helping to teach, in Africa, in South Asia – 6 m of them in the Pakistani Punjab alone.

And if we can drive on that great cause of female empowerment and education, the Swiss army knife that solves so many problems, then I believe we will eventually find a cure for the psychological contamination of radical Islamist extremism. Just as we have eradicated smallpox and polio.

It came and it will go.

And we will have problems – of course we will have problems.

Humanity will always have its afflictions in mind or body because without pain and doubt and anxiety there can be no pleasure and no triumph and no success.

But success will be achieved not by allowing the UK to retreat from our global role but by reinforcing that role and breakthroughs will come not through the edict of some bureaucrat in some Corbynist ministry of plenty but through the effort of inventors, scientists, business people, students and dreamers of whom we have so many.

And to all those who are worried about the UK today, let me remind you that it was only eight years ago that we stood on the verge of the nastiest recession for 70 years and I remember being taken up on to the roof of City hall – which I then ran – by a female American TV journalist and she said Mr mayor – look around you – no one is building anything and the irritating thing was she was right; the cranes were gone from the skyline; confidence had deserted us.

Well look at London today, storming ahead – even if the new mayor isn’t a patch on the last guy.

He seems to spend his time trying rather ineffectually to ban things.

Why not try doing something for a change?

And look at the UK – with the lowest unemployment rate for 42 years.

The highest number of people in work ever, the number one destination for investment into Europe and every time one of these facts emerges it is reported in tones of slight disapproval, and with the inevitable qualification – despite Brexit.

It is time to stop treating the referendum result as though it were a plague of boils or a murrain on our cattle or an inexplicable aberration by 17.4 m people. It is time to be bold, and to seize the opportunities and there is no country better placed than Britain.

Which is not only the place where the atom was first split but has become a gigantic cyclotron of talent in which people are coming together from every discipline to produce constant flashes of inspiration and indeed we are the global capital of innovation we export more TV programmes than any other country in Europe – five times more than the French.

We export a programme to Cambodia called Neak Neng Klay Chea Sethey, which means who wants to be a millionaire. And it is thanks to the triumph of conservative values you are allowed to become a millionaire in Cambodia without being despatched for re-education by some Asiatic John McDonnell

We lead the world in bioscience and fintech and some branches of AI and cybernetics – and what is Labour’s first instinct on hearing the news? Tax robots! and then make them join the union.

Did Manchester become great by taxing the spinning jenny?

We have a growing space programme run by my brother Jo Johnson and I have a candidate for the first man we gently blast into orbit and that is the superannuated space cadet from Islington and I know he has an innocent and voletrousered air but his domestic policies would rack up unfair debts for our children and grandchildren and his foreign policies would imperil not just this country but our friends and neighbours as well.

Conference we cannot allow it to happen.

200 years ago people used to come to this city to see something revolutionary – the beginning of the modern world and once again this country has had the guts to try to do something new and different to challenge received wisdom with a democratic revolution that we can turn into a cultural and technological and commercial renaissance.

There are people say we can’t do it.

We say we can.

We can win the future because we are the party that believes in this country and we believe in the potential of the British people. We have been privileged collectively to be placed in charge of this amazing country at a critical moment in our history.

We are not the lion.

We do not claim to be the lion.

That role is played by the people of this country. But it is up to us now – in the traditional non-threatening, genial and self-deprecating way of the British – to let that lion roar.

Boris Johnson – 2017 Speech on Hurricane Irma

Below is the text of the article written by Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, in the Sunday Mail on 10 September 2017. It was re-issued by the Government as a news release on the same day.

On a screen in the Foreign Office Crisis Centre, Hurricanes Irma and Jose are being tracked across the Caribbean – mile by devastating mile.

Britain would help any human being caught up in these forces of nature. But we have a special responsibility today because Hurricane Irma inflicted its most powerful blows upon British Overseas Territories, inhabited by 75,000 British citizens.

First was Anguilla, where Irma knocked out the power and cast the island into darkness, then came the British Virgin Islands – which have borne the brunt of the storm – followed by the Turks and Caicos.

I watched the 2 hurricanes swirl across the screen in the Crisis Centre where dedicated staff from the Foreign Office and the Department for International Development have been working around the clock since Wednesday.

They’ve been dispatching emergency supplies, mobilising ships and planes and trying to second guess nature by anticipating exactly what help would be needed, where and when.

Their task is complicated by the fact that they are dealing with not 1 storm but 2. Following closely behind Irma is Hurricane Jose – the first time that 2 category 4 or above hurricanes have struck in such quick succession since records began in 1851. To all intents and purposes, this is an unprecedented situation.

The Crisis Centre got through to Tim Foy, the Governor of Anguilla, who briefed me in calm and measured tones. The power station on his island had survived, he said, but 70 or 80% of the transmission poles had been toppled, depriving everyone of electricity.

I thought of the 15,000 Brits living in darkness on Anguilla, with destroyed homes and schools all around them, having endured one hurricane and now in the path of another.

But the Governor was full of praise for the immediate help provided by the men and women on RFA Mounts Bay. The government dispatched this 16,000-ton naval supply ship to the Caribbean in July in preparation for the hurricane season. She carries her own floating dock, a Wildcat helicopter and a special disaster relief team.

And the Governor described how these skilled personnel had managed to restore power at Anguilla’s hospital, rebuild the emergency operations centre and – perhaps most valuable of all – clear the runway and make the island’s airport serviceable.

RFA Mounts Bay has now been repositioned to do everything possible to help the British Virgin Islands. But we must be humble in the face of the power of nature. Whatever relief we are able to provide will not be enough for many who have lost so much – and their ordeal is not over.

A crisis like this brings out the best in Britain’s public servants. We can all take pride in people like Tim Foy and the other Governors of the stricken islands, the staff of the Foreign Office Crisis Centre, and the crew of RFA Mounts Bay. All are striving tirelessly to help those in need.

And so they must because the people of Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands and the Turks and Caicos are British. Our obligation to them does not depend on the happenstance of geography: we will help just as surely as if the hurricane had struck Inverness or Dover or St Ives.

It is precisely because of this overriding sense of obligation that the government has ordered the flagship of the Royal Navy, HMS Ocean, to head the Caribbean. Our biggest warship in service – carrying eight helicopters including 2 giant Chinooks – has left its NATO tasking in the Mediterranean and begun steaming westwards with all dispatch. HMS Ocean will cross the Atlantic and reach the Caribbean in about 10 days.

There is, of course, a desperate need for aid in the meantime. On Friday a giant C-17 transport aircraft from the RAF took off for the Caribbean, laden with enough emergency shelters for almost 1,000 people. In total, almost 20 tonnes of aid has already been sent by air, including rations, water purification kits and emergency lighting.

Expertise matters just as much as materiel, so 250 Royal Marines have been deployed in the region, including military engineers and medics.

They will reinforce the 40 personnel of the humanitarian and disaster relief team on board RFA Mounts Bay, whose excellent work has made such a difference in Anguilla.

In a situation where roads are blocked and communications disrupted, helicopters are essential assets. So a second C-17 left the UK on Friday carrying 2 Puma transport helicopters. They will join the Wildcat already deployed by RFA Mounts Bay.

We can be reassured that a great deal of aid has either arrived or is en route. But heartbreaking damage has been inflicted and no-one should assume that everything will go smoothly in the crucial days that lie ahead.

We are working alongside our friends, including France and the Netherlands, whose Caribbean territories have also suffered terribly, and the United States.

And the government has promised to match what I know will be the generous donations of the British public pound for pound.

We must now look ahead to where Irma will strike next. On Sunday the hurricane is expected to make landfall in Florida, where hundreds of thousands of Britons either live or go on holiday. Our Consul General in Miami is making every preparation.

In the coming days, our fellow Britons will be caught in the pathway of these forces of nature. We will not relent in our efforts to give them every possible help.

Boris Johnson – 2017 Statement on North Korea

Below is the text of the statement made by Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, in the House of Commons on 5 September 2017.

Mr Speaker, with your permission, I should like to make a statement about the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

At noon on Sunday, local time, North Korea tested the most powerful nuclear device ever detonated in the history of the regime’s quest for an illegal arsenal.

The underground explosion in a testing site only 60 miles from the Chinese border triggered an earthquake measuring up to 6.3 on the Richter scale – 10 times more powerful than the tremor created by the last detonation.

The regime claimed to have exploded a hydrogen bomb capable of being delivered on an intercontinental ballistic missile.

We should treat that claim with scepticism, but the House must be under no illusion that this latest test marks another perilous advance in North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

In a country blighted by decades of communist economic failure – where, in the 1990s, hundreds of thousands of people died of starvation or were reduced to eating grass and leaves to survive – the regime has squandered its resources on building an illegal armoury of nuclear bombs.

The House will wish to join me in condemning a nuclear test that poses a grave threat to the security of every country in East Asia and the wider world.

Earlier today, the North Korean ambassador was summoned to the Foreign Office to receive a formal protest. Honourable Members will recall the steady drumbeat of provocative and dangerous actions by Kim Jong-un’s regime.

Last year North Korea tested two nuclear weapons and launched 24 missiles; so far this year, the regime has fired 18 missiles – including two of intercontinental range; indeed three tests have taken place since the House rose in July, and on Monday last week, a missile flew over Japan, causing sirens to sound on Hokkaido and forcing thousands of people to take cover.

The regime has threatened to launch more missiles towards the US Pacific territory of Guam, which is home to 180,000 people and two military bases.

I will commend the dignity and restraint shown by South Korea and Japan, the countries that find themselves in the firing line of Pyongyang’s reckless ambitions.

North Korea’s brazen defiance has brought universal condemnation.

When the UN Security Council met in emergency session yesterday, every member – including China and Russia – denounced the latest nuclear test.

Britain has been at the heart of mobilising world opinion with the aim of achieving a diplomatic solution.

Last week, I spoke to my Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, and the Japanese foreign minister, Taro Kono.

A few hours after the nuclear test on Sunday, I spoke to the South Korean foreign minister, Kang Kyung-wha, and I have of course been in regular contact with Secretary Tillerson of the United States.

During her highly successful visit to Tokyo last week, my Right Honourable Friend the Prime Minister made clear our solidarity with Japan as it faces this grave threat.

Just as North Korea has pursued nuclear weapons with single-minded determination, so the international community must show the same resolve in our pursuit of a diplomatic solution.

And we should not be diverted by arguments that equate the illegal and aggressive actions of Pyongyang with the legitimate and defensive military exercises of South Korea and the United States.

North Korea has caused this crisis and the onus rests squarely on Kim Jong-un’s regime to obey international law and meet their obligations to disarm.

All hopes for progress rest on international co-operation – and there are some encouraging signs.

On 5 August, the Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2371, including the toughest sanctions ever imposed on North Korea, banning exports of coal, seafood, iron ore and lead.

If fully enforced, these new measures will cost Pyongyang about $1 billion – one third of the country’s total export earnings – reducing the resources available for nuclear weapons.

We are now pressing the Security Council to pass a new Resolution as swiftly as possible, imposing further sanctions and showing the unity and determination of the international community.

China, which accounts for 90% of North Korea’s overseas trade, has a unique ability to influence the regime – and the House can take heart from the fact that Beijing voted in favour of the latest sanctions resolution and condemned Pyongyang’s actions in the most unsparing terms.

North Korea’s nuclear device was not only tested near China’s border, it was also detonated on the day that President Xi Jinping opened a summit in Xiamen with the leaders of Russia, India, Brazil and South Africa.

I call on China to use all of its leverage to ensure a peaceful settlement of this grave crisis.

Kim Jong-un claims to want security and prosperity for North Korea’s people.

The only way to achieve this goal would be for North Korea to obey the UN and halt its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes, disarming in a complete and verifiable manner.

Britain stands alongside our allies in striving to achieve this goal. I commend this statement to the House.

Boris Johnson – 2017 Statement on Pakistan Independence Day

Below is the text of the statement made by Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, on 14 August 2017.

On behalf of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, I wish the people of Pakistan the very best on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of independence. Muhammad Jinnah’s founding vision of a progressive, inclusive Pakistan is still something worth cherishing and celebrating, and Pakistan should be rightly proud of its culture and history over the last 70 years.

The United Kingdom and Pakistan enjoy a close friendship thanks to the links between our people – particularly the 1.2 million British people who are of Pakistani origin. Whether on the cricket field, at Pakistani celebrations in the UK or though our strong education cooperation and support, the links between our two countries keep getting stronger. In 2017, the UK is celebrating these connections with a year-long programme of cultural events, exhibitions and visits.

As we celebrate our shared history together, and look forward to a future with more links, more trade and more cooperation between the UK and Pakistan, I wish the people of Pakistan Jashan e Azaadi Mubarak.

Boris Johnson – 2017 Speech at Lowy Institute

Below is the text of the speech made by Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, at the Lowy Institute in Sydney on 27 July 2017.

Good evening. It is great to be here in this wonderful Town Hall, alongside my friend and colleague Julie Bishop, and with Stephen Lowy and Michael Fullilove.

When I first came back to Britain after a year in Australia – at the age of 19 – it would be fair to say that I bore a pretty heavy imprint from my time in this country.

My conversation was studded with words like “bonzer, mate” or “you little ripper”, and on the streets of London in broad daylight I insisted on wearing the same “Stubbies” daks – shorts of appalling brevity – that I had worn in the bush until my then girlfriend said that it was her or the stubbies daks.

I am not sure how the contest was resolved. After years in the UK educational system my infatuation with Australian dress, manners, vocabulary and general cast of mind was so intense that I had become a kind of unconscious Les Patterson – a self-appointed and unwanted cultural ambassador.

In so far as my friends were able to understand me, it helped that this was the time when Neighbours and Kylie Minogue were propelling Australian life onto our screens, and when young Australians were beginning to pop up across the planet in a phenomenon that was set to music in 1980 by the band Men At Work.

You will recall that the peregrinations of the man from Down Under – how he met a man from Bombay with not much to say; how he met the man from Brussels 6 foot 4 inches and full of muscles, and he asked him do you speak a my language and he just smiled and gave him a vegemite sandwich – the point being that he was himself Australian.

And from that lyric you deduce that second characteristic of the Australians – not only a fierce sense of identity and independence, but also a truly global country, engaged with the world in a way that is positive and fearless and upbeat.

So keep those two features in your head – strong sense of national political and cultural identity, combined with a truly global outlook – as I ask you to conduct a thought experiment.

I am told that Australia has just joined Eurovision. All I can say as a representative of a country that often seems to score nil points is – good luck with that. But protract that logic.

Imagine that in 1972 Geoffrey Rippon and Ted Heath had been able by some miracle to persuade our friends in Paris that distance was no obstacle. Suppose that by her abundant self-evident influences from Britain, Greece, Italy and elsewhere it had been decided that Australia was really European; a great, glorious syncretic European country and therefore eligible for accession – and suppose the French had said oui, and Australia had been admitted to the Common Market. What would have happened?

Who would have wanted Australia to join the Common Market by the way? Let’s have a little retrospective referendum here…

Well, I think you could argue that there would have been advantages and disadvantages. Australia would certainly have continued to catapult huge quantities of butter and beef to Europe – more than ever, perhaps. But other things would not have been so easy.

I mean no criticism of the model and methods chosen by our EU friends but you wouldn’t be running your own competition law or your public procurement programmes and you wouldn’t be able to tailor your green energy programmes to suit Australia’s needs.

You would find yourselves regularly out-voted in the Council of Ministers on hours of work or the definition of chocolate. You would never have been able to come up with your own immigration policy – the fabled points-based system.

And for the last 44 years you would have had to conform to the Common Agricultural Policy, and we must face the terrible probability that the EU’s ruthless quota and intervention policies – designed to protect existing Mediterranean producers – would have meant that Australia’s now legendary winemakers would never have got beyond the first tentative vintages because the whole lot would have been compulsorily boiled up and turned into bioethanol; and there would be nothing from the Hunter valley on our tables tonight.

And above all an awful lot of your brightest diplomats would be spending their lives trying to stop things from happening, grappling in distant corridors with brilliant graduates of the Ecole Nationale d’Administration, instead of actually trying to get things done.

And even if you think I am being paranoid – even if you think it might not have been as bad as all that – I think we can look at Australia today and after 26 years of continuous growth, and with per capita GDP 25 per cent higher than in the UK, I think we can say that it was not absolutely necessary for Australia to join the Common Market.

Indeed, it is safe to say that it was not necessary for Australia to join any bloc or grouping organised on the integrationist principles of the EU.

Australia is not required to send well remunerated parliamentarians to an APEC parliament; and there isn’t a single APEC court of justice or currency, called the abalone, or whatever.

Australia hasn’t been required in the last few decades to sign up to a series of treaties designed to create a single political unit out of a patchwork of 27 countries; and no one claims that such a process is essential for Australia’s economic health and well-being, nor that this prevents Australia being a successful member of international economic organisations or a committed multilateral player.

So when we look at the forward momentum of Australia in the last few decades you can perhaps see why we in Britain are inclined to take with a pinch of salt some of the very slight gloom and negativity that is emanating from some distinguished quarters about the decision of the British people to leave the European Union.

And you can see why we might be moved to reject their notion that little old Britain is just too small, too feeble, too isolated, to cope on its own.

They say the UK is like some poor wriggling crustacean about to be deprived of its shell. I say – don’t come the raw prawn with me.

On the contrary, when we look at what Australia has achieved, we can see grounds for boundless excitement and optimism.

It is true that we may not have all Australia’s sunshine and other natural advantages; but we are the fifth biggest economy on earth, rated number two or perhaps number one for soft power, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, the second biggest contributor to NATO, we have the greatest financial capital anywhere in the world, with the biggest creative, culture and media sector anywhere in our hemisphere.

And we are like Australians in that our population is possessed of the most extraordinary wanderlust – one in ten of Britons now alive is estimated to be living outside Britain, a higher proportion than any other rich country.

Not just diplomats and aid workers either – though we certainly make a huge contribution to international activity. If you look at the five worst current humanitarian disasters – in Syria, South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and North East Nigeria – you will find that the three biggest donors are the US, the UK, and the EU; and that is before you even take account of the sixth or so of the EU aid budget we also pay.

We are hugely proud of that record – but of course we are not just talking of public officials. We are talking about 6 million bankers and journalists and artists and lawyers and athletes and – I kid you not – a policeman from Uxbridge who tours the world testing water slides: 6 million Brits spread out across the world in a great bright throbbing web like a scene from Avatar.

And we have the chance now as we leave the arrangements of the European Union to become even more global, and when I say more global I do not mean for a minute that we will become less European.

The Channel is not about to get wider. Britain is not going to sprout funnels and steam across to the Mid Atlantic. We remain historically, culturally, intellectually, emotionally and architecturally European.

Shakespeare is just as European as Michelangelo or Cervantes or Beethoven. Indeed, when you consider the range of his locations: Denmark, Austria, France, Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Croatia, Turkey, to say nothing of Lebanon, Syria and the New World – I think you could argue that he was more European in his interests than any other great artist.

This European-ness is not just words: we show our commitment to Europe by our moral and military willingness to come to the defence of our friends, a commitment that we make unconditionally, irrespective of our EU negotiations.

It is 100 years since British and Australian soldiers stood side by side in the Third Battle of Ypres, in what I still believe it is right to think of as a fight against tyranny.

Today there are 800 British soldiers in Estonia, almost a quarter of the NATO mission in Eastern Europe, there to give reassurance in the face of any potential provocations from the east. We will continue to stick up for the rights of Ukrainians, threatened by Russian aggression and revanchism.

We will work with our friends in the western Balkans, where there is currently a political and geo-strategic arm wrestle taking place; and we will continue to help them to achieve what they see as their Euro-Atlantic destiny.

We will help our Italian partners as they face the challenge of migration from North Africa– cracking down on the vile people traffickers who put their victims to sea in leaky boats.

We will continue to argue for balance and moderation in our European foreign policy; and yes we join our friends in deploring the actions of the Turkish authorities in arresting and imprisoning journalists and human rights activists, including Amnesty International campaigners. We call on Turkey to release them from pre-trial detention, ensure fair and speedy trials, and to find a new way forward.

But we also believe that we must engage with Turkey, and that it would be a great mistake to demonise or to push that extraordinary country away from us. That is not the right way forward, either.

And we believe that this European engagement – military, diplomatic, working together to defeat all those who would do us harm – is in our interests, in our partners’ interests – in our mutual interest.

And that mutual interest is nowhere more blatant than in the negotiations on trade that are about to begin.

I wore this morning a sweater derived from Spanish sheep, reared in New Zealand, whose wool was shorn and shipped to Italy where it was turned into cloth that was shipped to China – imagine that vast triangle – where it was stitched together and then back to New Zealand before being exported to Britain, France, all over the world. Think of that woolly jumper as it bounds over borders and barriers and customs posts with not a bleat of effort or exertion.

That is how trade works today, with standards and supply chains that are increasingly global; and with the help of the excellent negotiators on both sides I have no doubt that we will get a great deal that preserves and even enhances the frictionless movement of goods that is in the interests of both sides of the Channel.

And I am sure that we will get a solution that does nothing to undermine the interests of London’s financial sector, because the real rivals of the City are not in Paris or Frankfurt; they are in Hong Kong and New York and Singapore – and in the end I think everyone understands that London is an asset for the entire continent.

And when we do that deal I believe we will create a solution that has been so long in the making – a strong EU, buttressed and supported by a strong UK, with each side trading freely with the other, and with the UK able to think about new opportunities in the rest of the world.

There is nowhere more exciting to do that than here in the Indo-Pacific; here where there is a third of the global economy, around two-thirds of the global population – here where the growth is.

And that is why we have decided once again that the UK must be more present, more active, more engaged in this region. and in each of the three countries I have visited in the last week – Japan, New Zealand, here in Australia – I have heard people ask for Britain to get more involved.

And we will be here as a partner and friend; aiming at good relations with all the major countries of this region – not choosing between them. Our relationship with China, the engine of global growth, will be crucial now and in the future. As will our deep and long-standing partnerships with Japan and India. And of course those with you in Australia and our friends in New Zealand.

But we need to do more. So I can say tonight that after leaving the EU, we will be seeking to strengthen our own national relationship with ASEAN as an institution.

We want these partnerships because they are a big part of how we uphold the liberal international order, in Asia as elsewhere.

That is why last week I stood shoulder to shoulder with my colleague Fumio Kishida, the Japanese foreign minister, in denouncing the nuclear adventurism of Kim Jong Un. A man who reportedly deals with his enemies by strapping them to the side of a mountain and shelling them with an anti-aircraft gun.

That is why we stand up for the rights of the people of Hong Kong and for the ‘One country, two systems’ principle to be upheld – and I thank Julie Bishop for making that same point when she spoke a couple of nights ago.

In the South China Sea, we urge all parties to respect freedom of navigation and international law, including the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.

We are also ready once again to articulate our commitment to international order with money and a military presence.

That is why we last year sent our Typhoons for the first time to train with Japan, South Korea, and Malaysia, as one of the few countries able to deploy air power 7,000 miles from our shores. That is why one of the first missions of our 2 vast new aircraft carriers will be to sail through the Straits of Malacca, the route that currently accommodates a quarter of global trade.

And if you look at these vessels you will see that they are not only longer than the Palace of Westminster but more persuasive than most of the arguments you will hear in the House of Commons.

Not because we have enemies in this region – on the contrary, as I have made clear, we are keen to intensify our friendships – but because we believe in upholding the rule of law.

And that brings me to the final key point I want to make tonight. Winston Churchill identified what he saw as the special genius of the English-speaking peoples.

For my part I think we must be careful to avoid any such conceit or complacency that English-speakers are especially blessed; but it is certainly true that there is a series of interconnected ideas that have been highly successful, and that I certainly believe in.

They are democracy, the rule of law, habeas corpus, an independent judiciary, the absolute freedom to make fun of politicians, and above all the freedom to live your life as you please provided you do not harm the interests of others.

It is because they know that they can fulfil themselves in that way that people of talent are drawn to such beautiful cities as London and Sydney – and it is that very freedom that makes these cities so prosperous and so innovative.

And it is to defend and expand that ideal – of freedom under the law – that Britain and Australia work hand in hand; because we know that ideal is not really the property or copyright of the English-speaking peoples – but something that belongs or can belong to all humanity.

Today with Julie Bishop and our defence colleagues we discussed every issue under the sun. I must tell you that in the course of those talks we have over the last 24 hours had an almost embarrassing failure to disagree.

We are building greater global security together, and now we look forward to intensifying the trading and commercial relationships that greater security makes possible.

We both have great Commonwealth events next year – a great London Summit and I am sure a fantastic Gold Coast Commonwealth Games – and we both believe in the Commonwealth’s capacity to strengthen common values among its members from here, across Asia, into the Pacific.

After we leave the EU I am confident that Australia will be at, or near, the front of the queue for a new Free Trade Agreement with Britain; an agreement that could boost even further what we do together.

After all we already do so much. I have just met British engineers rebuilding Sydney Opera house. And I know only too well the debt of my own city, London, to Frank Lowy – now Sir Frank – a man who kept investing even in the darkest days of the 2008 crash, and who kept building even when pretty well every other crane had been removed.

We trade so much together – you sell us skateboards; we sell you boomerangs. We sell you marmite, you sell us vegemite – and I would not like to speculate on who does better on the deal.

You send us Patricia Hewitt and Lynton Crosby. We send you Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott.

Never in history has there been such a happy, swollen, distance-obliterating pipeline of people and ideas and goods and services, and as that flow increases in pace and volume let us remember that our success is made possible and guaranteed by the ideals we share. They are not unchallenged. They have their enemies and their detractors.

But they have stood us in good stead and we can be absolutely confident that they will succeed triumphantly in the years ahead. Thank you very much.

Boris Johnson – 2017 Press Conference in Tokyo

Below is the text of the press conference held between Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, and Fumio Kishida, the Japanese Foreign Secretary, in Tokyo in Japan on 21 July 2017.

Thank you very much, Fumio.

I’m actually absolutely delighted to be back here in Japan and thank you for the warm welcome that you have given us. I went for a run this morning, as I do when I’m in Tokyo, anticlockwise around the Imperial Palace and I want you know I was overtaken by absolutely everybody, of all ages. Well everybody was running much faster than me but my ego can survive this because yesterday I saw a robot, a Japanese robot, that could run faster than me and so I’m full of admiration, I know what an amazing place this is. What an amazing, inventive, dynamic economy Japan is.

But what we’re trying to do here today, Fumio and I, is to build on that relationship and that partnership and I’ve no doubt at all that it is going to get stronger and stronger. I’ve seen some fantastic examples of UK exports to Japan. A Honda Civic, by the way made in Swindon that I drove yesterday. And Japanese investments in the U.K. contrary to some of the gloomy stuff that you might see in some of the media, Japanese investments in the U.K. are at record high since the Brexit vote last year and I have no doubt at all that we are going to build a fantastic relationship with our friends and partners in the EU. We’re leaving the EU but we’re not leaving Europe. And one that allows us to continue to build our commercial and economic relations with Japan.

As you’ve mentioned Fumio, we share the same values and we share the same security threats, we face the same foes including from terrorism and indeed North Korea. And I want to stress that Britain stands shoulder to shoulder alongside Japan in our steadfast determination to stop North Korea’s persistent violations of United Nations resolutions. Two weeks ago we saw the test of an ICBM, unquestionably an ICBM, that landed in the Sea of Japan in what can only be called a reckless provocation. We all need to increase the pressure on Pyongyang through diplomacy and sanctions and that must include China using its influence to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table.

The UK has been in the forefront of that effort whether it’s the United Nations Security Council, or with our friends and partners in Europe and again here today in Japan. The threats that confront us are global and so our cooperation between the UK and Japan is now truly global. Britain and Japan work hand in glove in the UN Security Council on issues ranging from Syria to South Sudan. In Africa we’re working together on de-mining projects in Angola and we jointly trained peacekeepers in Senegal. Last year, The Royal Air Force sent typhoon fighters to Japan where they became the first non US Air Force to exercise alongside their Japanese counterparts. And I’m delighted that Britain is going to be using our expertise in hosting London 2012 to help ensure Japan Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games are just as successful, as I’m sure indeed that they will be.

Counterterrorism and cybersecurity, our particular focuses of our cooperation both between government and business and as an example of the growing UK Japan cyber cooperation, I welcome the signing yesterday of a strategic partnership between the UK company Darktrace, and NEC Networks and System Integration, Corporation.

Fumio, thank you for welcoming us today and thank you for the friendship and the partnership between us. This is a unique relationship between the U.K. and Japan. We have no other relationship like this. This is a partnership between two democracies, and by the way two constitutional monarchies, two island nations that share a great deal. Not just our belief in free-trade, our belief in democracy, but of course our joint belief in the rules based international order which we uphold.

Thank you very much everybody and thank you Fumio for welcoming us today.

Boris Johnson – 2016 Speech on the UK’s Policy in the Gulf

Below is the text of the speech made by Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, in Bahrain on 9 December 2016.

It is a great honour to be speaking here at this Manama dialogue in this 200th anniversary year of the friendship between Britain and Bahrain.

I have just come from an audience with His Majesty King Hamad during which we hailed the strength of a friendship that has been unbroken, and that was inaugurated in 1816 by one Captain William Bruce, who rejoiced in the title of British Resident in the Gulf.

In between chasing slavers and harrying pirates he discovered that the milk from the local cows was a cure for smallpox.

As he said: “Of the truth of it I have not the smallest doubt. I have asked some 40 or 50 persons” which strikes me as a pretty solid piece of medical research.

Perhaps lured by this magic milk the British came in growing numbers to the region until 1861 when the UK and Bahrain signed a “treaty of perpetual peace and friendship” and through two world wars assisted by all sorts of formalities of friendship and fealty the relationship progressed until 1968 and then something went wrong. Not here. Not in the Gulf. But in London.

And so, Ladies and Gentlemen, I want us tonight to drag our eyes back from this splendid dinner to a less opulent scene – to Britain in January 1968, a nation in the grip of a freezing winter with debts so bad that we were dependent – as Harold Wilson put it – on the mercy of the gnomes of Zurich (apologies to any gnomes for his political incorrectness).

A Britain where the snow was so deep that kids couldn’t get to school; the Beatles were on the verge of breaking up and the national self-confidence had sunk like mercury in the thermometer and I want to take you into that Cabinet room where two powerful figures were battling over the direction – the whole orientation – of the country.

On the one side there was Roy Jenkins, the urbane Chancellor of the Exchequer, with his frog-like beam who yearned to take Britain into what was then called the European Common Market, even though the UK had already been rejected twice by “nos amis” and in the other corner there was the colourful and brilliant Foreign Secretary George Brown, the man who gave the euphemism “tired and emotional” to the English language.

A man who once went up to a lovely scarlet clad creature at an embassy soiree in Peru and asked for the honour of dancing a waltz and was rebuffed on three grounds. The first was that he was drunk, the second was that this was not a waltz but the Peruvian national anthem and the third was that his interlocutor was the Cardinal Archbishop of Lima.

Those were the two adversaries, Roy Jenkins and George Brown, and the argument went on in the Cabinet for 7 consecutive meetings, breaking sometimes for only a brief meal, lasting a total of 36 hours.

And what was that argument about? It was about Britain’s role in the Gulf, and everywhere East of Suez; and whether the country, my country, could any longer afford it. Roy Jenkins said that British overseas expenditure was already £381 million a year (less than we give today in overseas aid to some countries these days) and he said this spending had to be cut back.

George Brown came back strongly. Yes, Europe was important, he accepted, but so was the rest of the world. And he made the key point that military and political partnerships went hand in hand with trade, and economic growth. On and on went the debate in tones that contemporaries described as “icy”, “bad-tempered”, “furious” until I am afraid Harold Wilson, the Prime Minister, summed up in favour of the defeatists and the retreatists.

George Brown lost; the flag came down; the troops came home, from Borneo, from the Indian Ocean, from Singapore, and yes from the Gulf and we in the UK lost our focus on this part of the world.

And so tonight I want to acknowledge that this policy of disengagement East of Suez was a mistake and in so far as we are now capable, and we are capable of a lot, we want to reverse that policy at least in this sense: that we recognise the strong historical attachment between Britain and the Gulf, and more importantly, we underscore the growing relevance and importance of that relationship in today’s uncertain and volatile world.

We are here at the Manama dialogue – and I am following a stellar series of emissaries including the Prince of Wales and the Prime Minister to make a strategic point that was symbolised by the GCC inviting our Prime Minister, Theresa May to be guest of honour at their summit. That any crisis in the Gulf is a crisis for Britain – from day one; that your security is our security and that we recognise the wisdom of those who campaigned for a policy of engagement east of Suez – that your interests military, economic, political – are intertwined with our own. Of course I don’t believe we can run the Union Jack Flag back up on every outpost around the world even if anyone else wanted us to do so – and they don’t – but we are reopening HMS Jufair, a naval support facility here in Bahrain, which His Majesty the King said he remembered from his childhood before our disengagement.

We are renewing military ties with old friends: Britain’s Gulf Defence Staff is being located in Dubai. The Al-Minhad air base in the UAE provides a hub for the RAF. In Oman, the British Army is establishing a Regional Land Training centre – one of only four in the world – and creating a permanent present in the Sultanate.

We cooperate intensively with our friends in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere on counter-terrorism, in sharing military technology, in what is still a highly dangerous geopolitical landscape where the spores of terrorism can be incubated and are incubated not just in the Middle East, but in our own country as well.

And it is absolutely right that we should so share and cooperate because our interests and our problems are shared.

That is why Britain has in total 1,500 military personnel in the region and 7 warships, more than any other Western nation apart from the US. We are spending £3 billion on our military commitments in the Gulf over the next 10 years and that is deepening a partnership that is stronger than with any other group of nations in the world outside NATO.

Together with our allies in the Gulf, we are fighting together to defeat Daesh in Iraq and Syria, and we are winning. The RAF is the second biggest contributors to the airborne strike missions after the Americans. And together we have helped dramatically to reduce the footprint of that terrorist organisation.

We are steadily exposing the absurdity of their pretensions to be a caliphate. And of course we all know the immensity of the challenges we face in this region. Helping – when stability is finally restored – Iraq to rebuild and unify that country. And we all know, as the Prime Minister said only a few days ago, that we must be clear-eyed and vigilant about the role of Iran.

And yes, I believe that it was worth spending 12 years to negotiate the JCPOA, the nuclear agreement with Iran. I think it was a genuine achievement of diplomacy that has helped to make the world a safer place. And I think we must build on this foundation and try to develop a better relationship with Tehran. But that can only happen if Iran plays by the same rules, and exercises its influence by diplomacy and by dialogue.

And so when you look at what is happening in Yemen – where the hand of Iran is clearly visible – I of course understand Saudi concerns about security and the paramount importance of Saudi Arabia securing itself from bombardment by the Houthis.

But I must also share my profound concern – which I’m sure is universal in this room – about the present suffering of the people of Yemen and I think we can all agree on this key point: that force alone will not bring about a stable Yemen. And that is why we in London have been working so hard with all our partners to drive that political process forwards and the same point – about the need above all for a political solution – can be made about every other conflict and struggle in this region.

Yes, it may very well be true that after months of barbaric bombing Bashar al-Asad and his Russian and Iranian sponsors are on the point of capturing the last of rebel-held Aleppo – perhaps within a matter of days, we can’t know. But if and when that happens it will assuredly be a victory that turns to ashes, it is but a Pyrrhic victory.

Remember that two thirds of Syria is currently outside Asad’s control, and that he is still besieging 30 other areas containing 571,000 tormented inhabitants. Surely to goodness, there can be no lasting peace in Syria, if that peace is simply re-imposed by a man who has engendered such hatred among millions of his own people.

And that’s why there must be a political solution in which the people of Syria take the lead. Of course we can all work together to try and bring about peace and stability.

But ultimately it must be up to the people of those countries to find the leadership and the solutions from within themselves – to reach out across communities and to build unity with their own new and uplifting national narratives and the best way we can all help, all of us, the whole region is to answer the social and economic challenge to meet the demands of this amazingly young and growing population and what they need is the prospect of an exciting economic future. They need jobs. And it’s here I think there is so much that we can do together.

And I think now is the time for us to recognise the wisdom of those “East of Suez” cabinet members around the table in 1968– to build partnerships and relationships that deliver for all of our constituents whether in the UK or in the Gulf. And now is the time for us in the UK to seize the opportunities of leaving the EU.

And let me stress as I have told so many representatives from the Gulf who have been to see me that though we may be extricating ourselves from the treaties of the European Union we are not leaving Europe. That would be geographically, culturally, physically, intellectually, aesthetically, morally impossible to do. You couldn’t take Britain away from the European continent unless you towed us out into the middle of the Atlantic and tried to shell us, it’s not going to happen.

We are going to be part of Europe we will be part of Europe’s security architecture, we will be there to work for European peace and stability. And by the way, we will still be able to stick up for our friends and partners in the Gulf. But now for the first time since the 1970s we will additionally be able to do new free trade deals and we will be able to build on the extraordinary commercial relationships that already exist between the UK and the Gulf.

You may remember that I used to be Mayor of London. Look at the impact of the Gulf on London. The Shard – which I opened myself, at least twice. The only building in the world that looks as though it is actually erupting through the skin of the planet like the tip of a super-colossal cocktail stick erupting through a gigantic pickled onion. Owned by the Qataris as they own the Olympic village, Harrods, Chelsea Barracks.

The UAE owns the Excel exhibition centre and the Tidal Array, so much of our energy comes from that vital green investment in the Thames estuary. It is thanks to the Gulf that we have such vital pieces of transport infrastructure as the DP World Port. And of course the Emirates cable car, an indispensable mode of transport, thank you very much for that. And do I hear a small murmur of assent there from the audience? It is a little known fact that Kuwait owns City Hall itself. I didn’t know it until today but I’m stunned to find out.

I don’t know whether our Kuwaiti friends want to claim credit for all City Hall’s policies – including the popular cycle superhighways which we are now extending but when you consider that we have 20,000 Gulf students in London and they are very welcome may I say, as are their fees when you think the academic exchanges, the cultural exchanges you can see why London is sometimes called the eighth Emirate. I think I may have made that up myself, but we’re proud of it. And of course we get the ball back over the net in our own modest British way – Brits pay 1.7 million visits to the Gulf every year.

We export colossal and ever growing numbers of Jaguar cars and Land Rovers. Marks and Spencer is here in force. I was told just now we have done a big deal to sell Rolls Royce engines to Gulf Air. And it really is true that for the purposes of some golf bunkers we have managed to export sand to Saudi Arabia. It’s true. And all that adds up to an export market for the UK in the Gulf region worth £20 billion per year, we sell more to the Gulf than any other non-EU export market, second only to the United States.

Almost 50 years since that famous disagreement in the British cabinet, which went the wrong way, I hope that we can conclude this evening that the conversation has ended in a triumphant vindication of George Brown, at least in this sense that Britain is back East of Suez not as the greatest military power on earth, though we certainly pay our share and we certainly have a fantastic capability.

Not as the sole guarantor of peace, although we certainly have a huge role to play. But as a nation that is active in and deeply committed to the region. And I want to stress that this is not just about politics, not just about trade, not just about strategic support. This is about building on and intensifying old friendships. Britain has been part of your story for the last two hundred years, and we will be with you for the centuries to come.

Thank you very much.