Theresa May – 2018 Chinese New Year Speech

Below is the speech made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, for Chinese New Year on 21 February 2018.

Good evening everyone, welcome to Downing Street, and a very happy Chinese New Year to each of you.

It’s an honour to have you here this evening to celebrate not just the start of the Year of the Dog, but also the deepening links between the UK and China.

As many of you know, I have recently returned from an important trip to China, strengthening the Golden Era of relations between our countries.

I had the privilege of visiting three wonderful cities: Wuhan, and Beijing, and Shanghai.

I had fruitful discussions with President Xi and Premier Li.

And I saw first-hand the growing strength of the trade and investment relationship between our two countries.

And I was delighted to take a 50-strong business delegation with me, and I think the visit helped to secure more than £9 billion of commercial deals that will benefit people here at home and in China. Those deals will create 2,600 jobs in the UK.

But the ties that bind our two countries are about more than just business.

They’re also about people. The 150,000 Chinese students currently studying in the UK. The growing number of young British people studying or working in China.

The hundreds of thousands of tourists who travel between our countries each year.

And of course the thriving Chinese community in the UK, who do so much to make the UK the country it is today.

Confucius wrote that “Virtue is not left to stand alone – he who practises it will have neighbours.”

I think it’s a powerful message for all of us seeking inspiration for the year ahead. And it exemplifies the contribution made by so many Chinese people in this country.

I’m thinking in particular of people like James Wong from Birmingham.

James chairs the committee that runs one of the UK’s largest Chinese New Year festivals, bringing tens of thousands of people together every year.

And he’s also an absolute pillar of his local community, combatting loneliness by bringing elderly people together to enjoy free meals in the restaurant that he runs.

And last year James was officially voted “Brummie of the Year”, which speaks volumes about the face of modern Britain and the contribution and integration of the UK’s Chinese community.

And in January James also received a ‘Points of Light’ award to recognise his work.

And he’s here with us today to help celebrate. Many congratulations James!

Now, when I was in China President Xi, quoting Shakespeare, said of UK/China relations that “What’s past is prologue”. And I, like him, am committed to building on the progress of recent years to deepen our relationship yet further.

For many years, many people have worked hard to bring the UK and China closer together – indeed, many of them are here with us tonight, including the Chinese ambassador.

The result of their work is the Golden Era we are living through today.

And, when I look around this room, when I see the passion, commitment and enthusiasm of so many people, I know for sure that the next 12 months will be another auspicious year for our businesses, for our governments, and above all for our peoples.

Have a very happy and prosperous new year.

Xin Nian Kuai Le.

Theresa May – 2018 Speech on Education

Below is the text of the speech made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, at Derby College on 19 February 2018.

I took my very first steps into elected politics as a local councillor, in south London.

For two years I was the chairman of the education authority in Merton.

It was an experience I will never forget.

I saw how vital good schools and colleges are to a community. How the hopes and aspirations which parents have for their children and which young people have for their futures are bound-up with the quality of education on offer.

And here in this fantastic setting, in a building from Derby’s proud past, which today is helping to define a fantastic future for this city and county as part of Derby College the immense value of great local institutions, providing people with an education that truly works for them, is clear.

I drew on my experiences in south London when I first became an MP, and made my maiden speech in Parliament on the subject of education in 1997.

I said then that the aim of education policy should be to ‘provide the right education for every child’. That ‘for some children that will be an education that is firmly based in learning practical and vocational skills. For others, it will be an education based on academic excellence.’

A lot has changed in the last 20 years, but that core principle that the needs of every child and every young person deserve to be met still drives my vision of the education system our country needs.

And the need for such a system has never been greater.

First, because the new technologies which are shaping the economy of the future will transform the world of work and demand new knowledge and skills in the decades ahead.

Technologies like artificial intelligence, biotech and new advances in data science have the potential to drive up living standards and open new possibilities for human achievement and personal fulfilment. But if we are to seize those opportunities, if we are to make Britain a great engine room of this technological revolution in the twenty-first century we need to make the most of all of our talents.

The sixth form students I met at Featherstone High School in Southall this morning, and the young people studying here at Derby College, will be starting their careers in the new economy of the 2020s and 2030s. To give them the skills they need to succeed, we need an education and training system which is more flexible and more diverse than it is today.

One which enriches their lives with knowledge, gives each of them a great start in life, and is there for them when they need it.

And there is another reason why we must act now to deliver that education system that truly works for everyone. Because the Britain of the 2020s will be a Britain outside of the European Union, pursuing a new course in the world.

I want the Britain which those young people will be living in to be a self-confident, outward-looking Britain.

The best friend and ally of our EU partners.

But also a Britain which is out in the world, forming even closer ties with friends and allies right across the globe. We will learn together, collaborating in research which makes new scientific breakthroughs and improves our understanding of the world.

We will trade together, spreading opportunity and prosperity ever more widely.

And we will stand together in support of the shared values which unite Britain with so many other like minded countries – in Europe yes, but across the world too.

To become that Britain where a thriving economy drives up living standards and creates greater security and opportunity for everyone and where the prosperity which economic growth generates is more fairly shared in our society we need education to be the key that unlocks the door to a better future.

Through education, we can become a country where everyone, from every background, gains the skills they need to get a good job and live a happy and fulfilled life.

To achieve that, we must have an education system at all levels which serves the needs of every child.

And if we consider the experience which many young people have of our system as it is, it is clear that we do not have such a system today.

Challenges we face

Imagine two children currently in secondary school and thinking about their futures.

One is a working class boy from here in Derby.

He aspires to a career as a lawyer, but he doesn’t have a social network to draw on with any links to the profession, and he doesn’t know if someone like him can make it.

The road he will have to take to achieve his dream is much more challenging than the one his counterpart who is privately educated will face.

Almost a quarter of the students at our research-intensive universities come from the 7% of the population who go to private school.

And the professions which draw their recruits primarily from these institutions remain unrepresentative of the country as a whole, skewed in favour of a particular social class. For the boy from a working class home here in Derby, the odds are stacked against him and as a country, we all lose out when we do not make the most of everyone’s talents and ability.

And now imagine a second child.

She is a girl from a middle class background, who is privately educated.

Her dream is to be a software developer, and she wishes she could go straight into the industry.

But she faces another set of pressures, which tell her that studying academic A-levels and making a UCAS application to a Russell group university is what the world expects of her.

The idea that there might be another path just as promising and better suited to her individual hopes and dreams simply doesn’t occur. In each case, the system is not working for the individual or for our country.

Paul Johnson of the IFS recently wrote about the experiences his two sons had of leaving school. One, a natural fit at university, found the application process simple and straight forward.

The other, who wanted to pursue a technical course, found it much more difficult because, ‘everything points to university as the default.’ Roughly half of young people go to university and roughly half do not. But in the twenty years since we introduced tuition fees, public debate on tertiary education has been dominated by a discussion of how we fund and support those who go to university, and there has been nothing like the same attention paid to how we support the training and develop the skills of the young people who do not.

Most politicians, most journalists, most political commentators took the academic route themselves, and will expect their children to do the same. And there remains a perception that going to university is really the only desirable route, while going into training is something for other people’s children.

If we are going to succeed in building a fairer society and a stronger economy, we need to throw away this outdated attitude for good and create a system of tertiary education that works for all our young people.

That means equality of access to an academic university education which is not dependent on your background, and it means a much greater focus on the technical alternatives too.

One of the great social achievements of the last half-century has been the transformation of an academic university education from something enjoyed almost-exclusively by a social elite into something which is open to everyone.

But making university truly accessible to young people from every background is not made easier by a funding system which leaves students from the lowest-income households bearing the highest levels of debt, with many graduates left questioning the return they get for their investment.

And for those young people who do not go on to academic study, the routes into further technical and vocational training today are hard to navigate, the standards across the sector are too varied and the funding available to support them is patchy.

The UK’s participation rate in advanced technical education – teaching people skills which will be crucial for the future – is low by international standards. The latest annual figures show that fewer than 16,000 people completed higher qualifications through the further education system.

That is compared to almost 350,000 undergraduate degrees which were awarded last year.

This imbalance has an economic cost, with some businesses finding it hard to recruit the skilled workers they need.

But it also has a social cost in wasted human potential, which we too often ignore.

So now is the time to take action to create a system that is flexible enough to ensure that everyone gets the education that suits them.

That’s what the review which I am launching today sets out to deliver.

And in doing so, it will build on the enormous progress we have already made in raising standards in our schools since 2010.

School standards

The success of every young person in whatever they go on to do in life, is shaped by the education they receive at school and the Conservatives have put restoring rigour and high standards in our primary and secondary schools at the heart of our education reforms.

We launched a major expansion of the academy programme, putting school teachers in charge of raising standards in their schools.

And we also went a step further, creating free schools – to give teachers, universities and charities the chance to bring greater innovation and specialism to the mix.

I have always believed in the great potential which Free Schools have to improve the lives of children.

That’s why I put them in the Conservative election manifesto in 2001, as shadow education secretary. And now free schools score some of the very highest results at GCSE.

The range of reforms which we put in place are leading to improved outcomes for young people. 1.9 million more children are being taught in schools that are good or outstanding.

The attainment gap is shrinking at primary and secondary school.

And England is improving internationally. The job is not yet done, but we are making excellent progress, and enormous credit is due to the teachers whose hard work has driven these improved outcomes.

Tertiary Review

On top of the firm foundation of a great primary and secondary education, and the reforms we are putting in place to introduce high quality T-levels we now need to ensure that options open to young people as they move into adulthood are more diverse, that the routes into further education and training are clearer, and that all options are fully accessible to everyone.

That is why I am today launching a major and wide-ranging review into post-18 education.

The review will be supported by an expert panel.

And I am delighted that Philip Augar has agreed to chair that panel.

It will focus on four key questions. How we ensure that tertiary education is accessible to everyone, from every background.

How our funding system provides value for money, both for students and taxpayers.

How we incentivise choice and competition right across the sector.

And finally, how we deliver the skills that we need as a country.

This is a review which, for the first time, looks at the whole post-18 education sector in the round, breaking down false boundaries between further and higher education, so we can create a system which is truly joined-up.

Universities – many of which provide technical as well as academic courses – will be considered alongside colleges, Institutes of Technology and apprenticeship providers.

There are huge success stories to be found right across the sector, at every level, and by taking a broad view, Philip and his expert panel will be able to make recommendations which help the sector to be even better in the future.

Student finance

Our universities are world-leaders and jewels in Britain’s crown.

16 British universities are in the world’s top 100, and four are in the top ten.

I want to know how we can build on that success, and at the same time ensure that people from all backgrounds share the benefits of university study. So the review will examine how we can give people from disadvantaged backgrounds an equal chance to succeed.

That includes how disadvantaged students and learners receive maintenance support, both from Government and universities and colleges.

But the review will also look more widely, and examine our whole system of student funding.

There are many aspects of the current system which work well.

Universities in England are now better funded than they have been for a generation.

And sharing the cost of university between taxpayers as a whole and the graduates who directly benefit from university study is a fair principle.

It has enabled us to lift the cap on the number of places – which was in effect a cap on aspiration – so universities can expand and so broaden access.

But I know that other aspects of the system are a cause for serious concern – not just for students themselves, but parents and grandparents too.

This is a concern which I share. The competitive market between universities which the system of variable tuition fees envisaged has simply not emerged.

All but a handful of universities charge the maximum possible fees for undergraduate courses.

Three-year courses remain the norm.

And the level of fees charged do not relate to the cost or quality of the course. We now have one of the most expensive systems of university tuition in the world.

We have already begun to take action to address some of these concerns.

We scrapped the increase in fees that was due this year, and we have increased the amount graduates can earn before they start repaying their fees to £25,000.

The review will now look at the whole question of how students and graduates contribute to the cost of their studies including the level, terms and duration of their contribution.

Our goal is a funding system which provides value for money for graduates and taxpayers, so the principle that students as well as taxpayers should contribute to the cost of their studies is an important one.

I believe – as do most people, including students – that those who benefit directly from higher education should contribute directly towards the cost of it. That is only fair.

The alternative – shifting the whole burden of university tuition onto the shoulders of taxpayers as a whole – would have three consequences.

First, it would inevitably mean tax increases for the majority of people who did not go to university, and who on average earn less than those who did. Second, it would mean our universities competing with schools and hospitals for scarce resources, which in the past meant they lost out, putting their international pre-eminence at risk.

And third, it would mean the necessary re-introduction of a cap on numbers, with the Treasury regulating the number of places an institution could offer, and preventing the expansion which has driven wider access in recent years.

That is not my idea of a fair or progressive system.

Diversity and choice

And Philip and his colleagues will also look beyond universities, to examine choice and competition right across the sector and recommend practical solutions.

This will build on reforms which are already in train to increase the options which are available across further and higher education.

Over the last few years, reforms to technical education have improved every aspect of the offer available to young people. We now have higher standards for apprenticeships and vocational courses.

T-levels are on the way, which will provide a high-quality, technical alternative to A-levels.

A new network of Institutes of Technology will specialise in the advanced technical skills our economy needs.

This review will now identify how we can help young people make more effective choices between these different options. That could include giving young people better guidance about the earning potential of different jobs and what different qualifications are needed to get them, so they can make more informed decisions about their futures.

But this isn’t just about young people.

Retraining throughout the course of your career, to change jobs or gain promotion, will only become more necessary as new technologies have an impact on our economy.

We need to support flexible life-long learning, including part-time and distance learning – something which the current funding system does not always make easy.

So by focusing on these four key priorities, making tertiary education accessible to all, promoting choice and competition in the sector, delivering the skills our economy needs, and getting value for money for students and taxpayers we can give every young person access to an education that suits their skills and aspirations.

One which opens up possibilities for their future and helps them into a rewarding career.

Conclusion

Almost thirty years ago, when I was in charge of that local education authority, an incoming Conservative Prime Minister, who like me went to a state school said that the great task of the coming decade should be to ‘make the whole of this country a genuinely classless society’.

Eighteen months ago, when I became Prime Minister, I spoke of my desire to make Britain a Great Meritocracy. Today, our ambition for the Britain we will build outside the EU must be just as great.

And it must be matched with a determination to turn that ambition into reality.

Because by voting to leave the EU in 2016, millions of people across this country were not just choosing to leave the European Union they were sending a clear message about how our society and our economy works – or rather doesn’t work – in too many communities.

If we are truly to make good on the instruction of the referendum, we need to reconnect everyone in our society to a sense of fairness and opportunity.

We need to make Britain a country where everyone can go as far as their talents will take them and no one is held back by their background or class.

Where education is the key to opening up opportunity for everyone. The vision I have for the Britain we will build is of a country which is fit for the future, delivered through bold social and economic reform.

That is why we are building an education system which unlocks everyone’s talents, and gives them the skills they need to go as far as their hard work will take them.

It’s why we support the market economy and back entrepreneurs and wealth creators – but step in when businesses don’t play by the rules.

And it is why we are making the UK the very best place in the world to start and grow a high-tech business – while also making sure that new technologies work for everyone in society.

If we get it right, we can build a country that truly works for everyone.

A country where your background does not define your future, and class distinctions are a thing of the past. Where a boy from a working class home can become a High Court judge, thanks to a great state education.

And where a girl from a private school can start a software business, thanks to a first-class technical education.

That is my vision for a fairer society and how we will deliver it.

A society where good, rewarding work is available for everyone. An economy with the skills it needs to succeed. Britain as the Great Meritocracy, a country that respects hard work, rewards effort and industry, where a happy and fulfilled life is within everyone’s grasp.

Theresa May – 2018 Speech at Munich Security Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, in Munich, Germany on 17 February 2018.

For more than half a century, this conference has brought nations together from Europe and across the Atlantic to forge our common security.

The fundamental values we share – respect for human dignity, human rights, freedom, democracy and equality – have created common cause to act together in our shared interest.

The rules-based system we helped to develop has enabled global cooperation to protect those shared values.

Today as globalisation brings nations closer together than ever before, we face a host of new and growing threats that seek to undermine those rules and values.

As internal and external security become more and more entwined – with hostile networks no longer only rooted in state-based aggression and weapons designed not just to be deployed on the battlefield but through cyberspace – so our ability to keep our people safe depends ever more on working together.

That is reflected here today in the world’s largest gathering of its kind, with representatives of more than seventy countries.

For our part, the United Kingdom has always understood that our security and prosperity is bound to global security and prosperity.

We are a global nation – enriching global prosperity through centuries of trade, through the talents of our people and by exchanging learning and culture with partners across the world.

And we invest in global security knowing this is how we best protect our people at home and abroad.

That is why we are the second largest defence spender in NATO, and the only EU member to spend 2 per cent of our GDP on defence as well as 0.7 per cent of our Gross National Income on international development. And it is why we will continue to meet these commitments.

It is why we have created a highly developed set of security and defence relationships: with the US and Five Eyes partners, with the Gulf and increasingly with Asian partners too.

We have invested in critical capabilities – including our nuclear deterrent, our two new aircraft carriers, our world class special forces and intelligence agencies.

We are a leading contributor to international missions from fighting Daesh in Iraq and Syria to peacekeeping in South Sudan and Cyprus, and NATO missions in Eastern Europe.

And within Europe we are working ever more closely with our European partners, bringing the influence and impact that comes from our full range of global relationships.

And we want to continue this co-operation as we leave the European Union.

The British people took a legitimate democratic decision to bring decision making and accountability closer to home.

But it has always been the case that our security at home is best advanced through global cooperation, working with institutions that support that, including the EU.

Changing the structures by which we work together should not mean we lose sight of our common aim – the protection of our people and the advance of our common interests across the world.

So as we leave the EU and forge a new path for ourselves in the world, the UK is just as committed to Europe’s security in the future as we have been in the past.

Europe’s security is our security. And that is why I have said – and I say again today – that the United Kingdom is unconditionally committed to maintaining it.

The challenge for all of us today is finding the way to work together, through a deep and special partnership between the UK and the EU, to retain the co-operation that we have built and go further in meeting the evolving threats we face together.

This cannot be a time when any of us allow competition between partners, rigid institutional restrictions or deep-seated ideology to inhibit our co-operation and jeopardise the security of our citizens.

We must do whatever is most practical and pragmatic in ensuring our collective security.

Today I want to set out how I believe we can achieve this – taking this opportunity to establish a new security partnership that can keep our people safe, now and in the years ahead.

Safeguarding our internal security

Let me start with how we ensure security within Europe.

The threats we face do not recognise the borders of individual nations or discriminate between them.

We all in this room have shared the pain and heartbreak of terrorist atrocities at home.

It is almost a year since the despicable attack on Westminster, followed by further attacks in Manchester and London.

These people don’t care if they kill and maim Parisians, Berliners, Londoners or Mancunians because it is the common values that we all share which they seek to attack and defeat.

But I say: we will not let them.

When these atrocities occur, people look to us as leaders to provide the response.

We must all ensure that nothing prevents us from fulfilling our first duty as leaders: to protect our citizens.

And we must find the practical ways to ensure the co-operation to do so.

We have done so before.

When Justice and Home Affairs ceased to be intergovernmental and became a shared EU competence, of course there were some in the UK who would have had us adopt the EU’s approach wholesale, just as there were some who would have had us reject it outright.

As Home Secretary, I was determined to find a practical and pragmatic way in which the UK and EU could continue to co-operate on our common security.

That is why I reviewed each provision in turn and successfully made the case for the UK to opt back in to those that were clearly in our national interest.

Through the relationship we have developed, the UK has been at the forefront of shaping the practical and legal arrangements that underpin our internal security co-operation.

And our contribution to those arrangements is vital in protecting European citizens in cities right across our continent.

First our practical co-operation, including our expedited extradition and mutual legal assistance relationship, means wanted or convicted serious criminals – and the evidence to support their convictions – move seamlessly between the UK and EU Member States.

So when a serious terrorist like Zakaria Chadili was found living in the UK – a young man who was believed to have been radicalised in Syria and was wanted for terrorist offences in France – there was no delay in ensuring he was extradited back to France and brought to justice.

He is one of 10,000 people the UK has extradited through the European Arrest Warrant. In fact, for every person arrested on a European Arrest Warrant issued by the UK, the UK arrests eight on European Arrest Warrants issued by other Member States.

The European Arrest Warrant has also played a crucial role in supporting police co-operation between Northern Ireland and Ireland – which has been a fundamental part of the political settlement there.

Second, co-operation between our law enforcement agencies means the UK is one of the biggest contributors of data, information and expertise to Europol. Take for example, Operation Triage where police in the UK worked extensively with Europol and the Czech Republic to crack a trafficking gang involved in labour exploitation.

Third, through the Schengen Information System II, the UK is contributing to the sharing of real-time data on wanted criminals, missing persons and suspected terrorists. About a fifth of all alerts are circulated by the UK, with over 13,000 hits on people and objects of interest to law enforcement across Europe in the last year alone.

The UK has also driven a pan-EU approach to processing passenger data, enabling the identification and tracking of criminals, victims of trafficking and those individuals vulnerable to radicalisation.

In all these areas, people across Europe are safer because of this co-operation and the unique arrangements we have developed between the UK and EU institutions in recent years.

So it is in all our interests to find ways to protect the capabilities which underpin this co-operation when the UK becomes a European country outside the EU but in a new partnership with it.

To make this happen will require real political will on both sides.

I recognise there is no existing security agreement between the EU and a third country that captures the full depth and breadth of our existing relationship.

But there is precedent for comprehensive, strategic relationships between the EU and third countries in other fields, such as trade. And there is no legal or operational reason why such an agreement could not be reached in the area of internal security.

However, if the priority in the negotiations becomes avoiding any kind of new co-operation with a country outside the EU, then this political doctrine and ideology will have damaging real world consequences for the security of all our people, in the UK and the EU.

Let’s be clear about what would happen if the means of this co-operation were abolished.

Extradition under the European Arrest Warrant would cease. Extradition outside the European Arrest Warrant can cost four times as much and take three times as long.

It would mean an end to the significant exchange of data and engagement through Europol.

And it would mean the UK would no longer be able to secure evidence from European partners quickly through the European Investigation Order, with strict deadlines for gathering evidence requested, instead relying on slower, more cumbersome systems.

This would damage us both and would put all our citizens at greater risk.

As leaders, we cannot let that happen.

So we need, together, to demonstrate some real creativity and ambition to enable us to meet the challenges of the future as well as today.

That is why I have proposed a new Treaty to underpin our future internal security relationship.

The Treaty must preserve our operational capabilities. But it must also fulfil three further requirements.

It must be respectful of the sovereignty of both the UK and the EU’s legal orders. So, for example, when participating in EU agencies the UK will respect the remit of the European Court of Justice.

And a principled but pragmatic solution to close legal co-operation will be needed to respect our unique status as a third country with our own sovereign legal order.

As I have said before, we will need to agree a strong and appropriate form of independent dispute resolution across all the areas of our future partnership in which both sides can have the necessary confidence.

We must also recognise the importance of comprehensive and robust data protection arrangements.

The UK’s Data Protection Bill will ensure that we are aligned with the EU framework. But we want to go further and seek a bespoke arrangement to reflect the UK’s exceptionally high standards of data protection. And we envisage an ongoing role for the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office, which would be beneficial in providing stability and confidence for EU and UK individuals and businesses alike.

And we’re ready to start working through this with colleagues in the European Commission now.

Finally, just as we have been able to develop the agreement on passenger name records in the face of terrorist atrocities in recent years, so the Treaty must have an ability to ensure that as the threats we face change and adapt – as they surely will – our relationship has the capacity to move with them.

Nothing must get in the way of our helping each other in every hour of every day to keep our people safe.

If we put this at the heart of our mission – we can and will find the means.

And we cannot delay discussions on this. EU Member States have been clear how critical it is that we maintain existing operational capabilities.

We must now move with urgency to put in place the Treaty that will protect all European citizens wherever they are in the continent.

External security

But clearly our security interests don’t stop at edge of our continent.

Not only do the threats to our internal security emanate from beyond our borders, as we look at the world today we are also facing profound challenges to the global order: to peace, prosperity, to the rules-based system that underpins our very way of life.

And in the face of these challenges, I believe it is our defining responsibility to come together and reinvigorate the transatlantic partnership – and the full breadth of all our global alliances – so that we can protect our shared security and project our shared values.

The United Kingdom is not only unwavering in its commitment to this partnership, we see reinvigorating it as a fundamental part of our global role as we leave the European Union.

As a Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council, as a leading contributor to NATO and as America’s closest partner, we have never defined our global outlook primarily through our membership of the European Union or by a collective European foreign policy.

So upon leaving the EU, it is right that the UK will pursue an independent foreign policy.

But around the world, the interests that we will seek to project and defend will continue to be rooted in our shared values.

That is true whether fighting the ideologies of Daesh, developing a new global approach to migration, ensuring the Iranian nuclear deal is properly policed or standing up to Russia’s hostile actions, whether in Ukraine, the Western Balkans or in cyberspace. And in all these cases, our success depends on a breadth of partnership that extends far beyond the institutional mechanisms for cooperation with the EU.

That means doing more to develop bi-lateral co-operation between European nations, as I was pleased to do with President Macron at last month’s UK-France Summit.

It means building the ad hoc groupings which allow us to counter terrorism and hostile state threats, as we do through the 30 strong intergovernmental European Counter Terrorism Group – the largest of its kind in the world.

It means ensuring that a reformed NATO alliance remains the cornerstone of our shared security.

And, critically, it means both Europe and the United States reaffirming our resolve to the collective security of this continent, and to advancing the democratic values on which our interests are founded.

Taken together, it is only by strengthening and deepening this full range of partnerships within Europe and beyond that we will be able to respond together to the evolving threats we face.

So what does this mean for the future security partnership between the UK and the EU?

We need a partnership that respects both the decision-making autonomy of the European Union and the sovereignty of the United Kingdom.

This is fully achievable. The EU’s common foreign policy is distinct within the EU Treaties and our foreign policies will keep evolving. So, there is no reason why we should not agree distinct arrangements for our foreign and defence policy cooperation in the time-limited implementation period, as the Commission has proposed. This would mean that key aspects of our future partnership in this area would already be effective from 2019.

We shouldn’t wait where we don’t need to. In turn, if the EU and its remaining Member States believe that the best means to increase the contribution Europe makes to our collective security is through deeper integration, then the UK will look to work with you. And help you to do so in a way which strengthens NATO and our wider alliances too, as EU leaders have repeatedly made clear.

The partnership that we need to create is therefore one which offers the UK and the EU the means and choice to combine our efforts to the greatest effect – where this is in our shared interest.

To put this into practice so that we meet the threats we all face today and build the capabilities we all need for tomorrow, there are three areas on which we should focus.

First, at a diplomatic level, we should have the means to consult each other regularly on the global challenges we face, and coordinate how we use the levers we hold where our interests align.

In particular, we will want to continue to work closely together on sanctions. We will look to carry over all EU sanctions at the time of our departure. And we will all be stronger if the UK and EU have the means to co-operate on sanctions now and potentially to develop them together in the future.

Second, it is clearly in our shared interests to be able to continue to coordinate and deliver operationally on the ground.

Of course, we will continue to work with and alongside each other.

But where we can both be most effective by the UK deploying its significant capabilities and resources with and indeed through EU mechanisms – we should both be open to that.

On defence, if the UK and EU’s interests can best be furthered by the UK continuing to contributing to an EU operation or mission as we do now, then we should both be open to that.

And similarly, while the UK will decide how we spend the entirety of our foreign aid in the future, if a UK contribution to EU development programmes and instruments can best deliver our mutual interests, we should both be open to that.

But if we are to choose to work together in these ways, the UK must be able to play an appropriate role in shaping our collective actions in these areas.

Third, it will also be in our interests to continue working together on developing the capabilities – in defence, cyber and space – to meet future threats.

The UK spends around 40 per cent of Europe’s total on defence R&D. This investment provides a sizeable stimulus to improve Europe’s competitiveness and capability. And this is to the benefit of us all.

So an open and inclusive approach to European capability development – that fully enables British defence industry to participate – is in our strategic security interests, helping keep European citizens safe and Europe’s defence industries strong.

And Eurofighter Typhoon is a great example of this – a partnership between the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain which has supported over 10,000 highly skilled jobs across Europe.

This is also why the UK wants to agree a future relationship with the European Defence Fund and the European Defence Agency, so that jointly we can research and develop the best future capability that Europe can muster.

Last year’s ‘NotPetya’ cyber-attack showed why we also need to work closely to defend our interests in cyber space.

This reckless attack – which the UK and partners have attributed to Russia – disrupted organisations across Europe costing hundreds of millions of pounds.

To contend with a truly global threat such as this we need a truly global response – with not only the UK and EU, but industry, government, like-minded states and NATO all working together to strengthen our cyber security capabilities.

And as our lives move increasingly online, so we will also become increasingly reliant on space technologies. Space is a domain like any other where hostile actors will seek to threaten us.

So we very much welcome the EU’s efforts to develop Europe’s capabilities in this field. We need to keep open all the options which will enable the UK and the EU to collaborate in the most effective way possible. The UK hosts much of Europe’s cutting edge capabilities on space and we have played a leading role, for example, in the development of the Galileo programme.

We are keen for this to continue as part of our new partnership, but, as is the case more widely, we need to get the right agreements concluded which will allow the UK and its businesses to take part on a fair and open basis.

Conclusion

It was the tragic massacre at the 1972 Olympics here in Munich which subsequently inspired a British Foreign Secretary, Jim Callaghan, to propose an intergovernmental group aimed at co-ordinating European counter terrorism and policing.

At the time this was outside the formal mechanisms of the European Community. But in time, it became the foundations for the co-operation that we have on Justice and Home Affairs today.

Now, as then, we can – and must – think pragmatically and practically to create the arrangements that put the safety of our citizens first.

For ours is a dynamic relationship, not a set of transactions.

A relationship built on an unshakeable commitment to our shared values.

A relationship in which we must all invest if we are to be responsive and adaptive to threats which will emerge perhaps more rapidly than any of us can imagine.

A relationship in which we must all play our full part in keeping our continent safe and free, and reinvigorate the transatlantic alliance and rules based system on which our shared security depends.

Those who threaten our security would like nothing more than to see us fractured.

They would like nothing more than to see us put debates about mechanisms and means ahead of doing what is most practical and effective in keeping our people safe.

So let the message ring out loud and clear today: we will not let that happen.

We will together protect and project our values in the world – and we will keep our people safe – now and in the years to come.

Theresa May – 2018 Press Conference with Angela Merkel

Below is the text of the press conference between Theresa May, the Prime Minister, and Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, on 16 February 2018.

Chancellor Merkel

Ladies and gentlemen, we are delighted to be able to welcome the British Prime Minister Theresa May to Berlin today. She will go on and stand to participate in the Munich Security Conference. We have a very close exchange of views, both on Britain leaving the European Union, and on the international agenda, and our intensive cooperation on all global issues.

We basically have not changed our stance on Britain’s leaving the European Union. We deplore it, but we want to adopt a constructive position because we want to have as close as possible a partnership with Britain even after leaving the European Union, both economically and politically. We were guided by this spirit when talking about leaving, when talking about the transition period, and in March, we will deal with the issue of the guidelines for our future relationship.

For us as Germans, we would like to see a situation where we as 27 act together in these negotiations, but obviously bilateral talks are of prime importance in this particular phase and at this particular stage. All this is a process that is ongoing, we’re all developing our ideas about this, so we will very much look forward to Britain, again, setting out its ideas. The speech in Florence was a very important speech in this respect, and we will obviously follow very carefully what other statements will be made in the period leading up to the March Council. And then we will also try and coordinate very closely on the future guidelines as we work on them.

We would like to initiate those negotiations because we are under a certain amount of time pressure, but obviously, we also want to be very diligent, very careful, in working on this, which means we will have frequent exchanges of views.

Looking at global challenges, we talked about the nuclear agreement with Iran. There’s a very close coordination here, and also a common position of the European partners of Britain, therefore, also and of Germany. We also talked about Britain hosting this year the so-called Berlin Process, as a conference with the countries of the Western Balkans. I must say that I’m delighted to note that, irrespective of Britain leaving the European Union, this perspective of the Western Balkans is seen as a very important point also about Britain in order to ensure a peaceful order for the whole of Europe.

We talked about Ukraine and the conflict there, and about how we can achieve progress there. And we also talked about Syria, we voiced our concerns about the situation there on the ground. Obviously, Turkey has a legitimate interest in ensuring its own security, but everything that can lead to tensions among NATO partners has to be avoided at all costs. And then we will coordinate very closely on this, as well. So, it was a very constructive talk guided by a spirit of friendship of partnership, so yet again, a very warm welcome to you, Theresa, here to Berlin.

Prime Minister May

It’s a pleasure to be in Berlin once again and I thank Chancellor Merkel for hosting these talks today. You may recall, she was the first Head of Government that I visited after becoming Prime Minister in 2016, I think underlining the importance of the relationship between our two countries.

Our partnership is vital in defending our shared values and promoting our interests around the world. We are standing side-by-side in Eastern Europe as part of NATO efforts to reassure our allies and deter Russian aggression.

Our Armed Forces are supporting the Iraqi Government to liberate territory in their brave fight against Daesh in the Middle East.

And in areas such as global health, climate change, clean energy, UK-Germany cooperation has shaped the international agenda.

Security

In our talks today, we have discussed the speech I will give to the Munich security conference tomorrow, in which I will reiterate that the UK remains unconditionally committed to European security – and set out my vision for a unique new partnership between the EU and the UK on defence, information sharing, security and law enforcement.

Because as the threats we face grow and evolve, our structures and capabilities must keep pace.

Whether the challenge comes from North Korea’s attempts to nuclearise the Korean Peninsula or the Islamist terrorists that continue to seek to do us harm.

We must work together and use all the levers at our disposal to keep people across Europe safe.

Foreign policy

On foreign policy, we already work very closely together.

Today Chancellor Merkel and I have reaffirmed our commitment to the Iran nuclear deal and the need for full implementation by all sides that we made in October last year. And we agreed that as we continue to work to preserve the deal we also share US concerns about Iran’s destabilising activity in the Middle East.

We stand ready to take further appropriate measures to tackle these issues.

We also discussed the Western Balkans Conference, which I look forward to Chancellor Merkel attending in London in July.

Prosperity and Brexit

Of course, it is not only in defence of our shared values that the UK and Germany rely on one another.

Trade between our nations secures and generates hundreds of thousands of jobs in both countries, with hard work, enterprise and innovation at its foundation.

Our proud history of commerce goes back to at least the 12th century with the trade between the Hanseatic cities and English ports.

And it is vital to people in both the UK and Germany that this shared tradition continues.

And so we have referred in our discussions to the UK’s vision for a bold and ambitious economic partnership once the UK leaves the European Union.

I want to ensure that UK companies have the maximum freedom to trade and operate within German markets – and for German businesses to do the same in the UK.

Much progress has already been made in the Brexit negotiations and we both welcomed the agreement reached last December to secure rights for more than a hundred thousand German nationals in the UK and a similar number of UK citizens living here in Germany.

We’re now ready to enter into the next phase of negotiations and our immediate goal is to agree a time-limited implementation period, with the latest round of talks between the UK and the Commission due to begin on Monday.

Conclusion

The UK and Germany’s shared history, values and culture make us vital partners and strong allies both bilaterally and through NATO, the G7 and the G20.

And we will continue to work together to strengthen these ties for years and decades to come.

Q&A

Question: Prime Minister, do you understand your fellow leader’s frustration that 18 months after taking office, you’re still unable to say, beyond the words ‘deep and special’, or today, ‘bold and ambitious’, what Britain wants? Will you be able to tell Chancellor Merkel any more detail today, or must that continue to wait for your Cabinet colleagues to agree with one another?

And Chancellor Merkel, did you again ask the Prime Minister, ‘What does Britain want?’ And did you learn anything today that you didn’t know yesterday?

Prime Minister May: Well, first of all, we have been setting out – as I said right at the very beginning of this process, we will be setting out at different times the next sort of stage of the process. I’ve done that through the Lancaster House speech, through the Florence speech. Tomorrow, I’m going to be setting out our ambition for a security partnership between the UK and the European Union as we move forward, and we’ll be saying something in the coming weeks in relation to our future economic partnership.

But what we’re doing – the stage we’re at is, first of all, ensuring that we agree the time-limited implementation period. This was a principle that was agreed in the December discussions, when sufficient progress was declared in that joint report. And then, of course, we go ahead to start the negotiations, to looking at that future economic partnership.

But it isn’t just a one-way street: I think that’s what’s important. Actually, I want a future economic partnership that is good for the European Union, is good for Germany, is good for the other members of – remaining members of the European Union, and is good for the United Kingdom, and I believe that through the negotiations, we can achieve just that economic relationship, alongside us, obviously, ensuring we continue to have a good security partnership, too.

Chancellor Merkel: Well, first of all, let me say that I’m not frustrated at all; I’m just curious how Britain envisages this future partnership, and obviously, we’ll also have our own vested interests, as regards, for example, economic commitments. We would like to preserve this close partnership, and maybe both sides, in a way, are in a process of learning, of trying to find out where we find common ground. For this, what we need is a permanent exchange, because we sometimes don’t know how our opposite number is seeing things, and I think that this is a very candid exchange that we’ve had. We will need to have further exchanges, but frustration doesn’t at all describe it appropriately.

Question: Two questions, madam Chancellor. This is already your fourth press conference with an international guest within 24 hours, so does that mean that you are back on international stage and are trying to make a mark after a period of absence, so to speak? And what does this mean for the Brexit negotiations of your being back on the international stage being more visible? That’s my question addressed to you.

And a question addressed to the Prime Minister in very concrete terms, particularly as regards to German business community, there is a very great concern that has been voiced because there’s a high degree of uncertainty. Could you say how you want to ensure German companies in future being able to trade freely with Britain and also vice versa? Particularly in financial industry there seem to be many open issues yet. Can you say anything in more concrete terms yet?

Chancellor Merkel: Well, there are always, let’s say, intervals, not only now. As you know, with the former government, I had international visits, for example, the EU Africa conference or Davos. I’ve had obviously also appearances there, but when you are in coalition agreements and things – things come to sort of a head, then obviously you cannot host a foreign guest.

But obviously the Brexit negotiations are something that we follow very closely. Even as acting government we are in contact with those who lead those negotiations. Parliament, too, is interested. We want to be an active partner. We don’t want to delay matters. We’ve always been guided by this spirit and I think we’ve been able to do this.

Prime Minister May: I’ll take the second question. Of course the point is we’re entering negotiations with the European Union, which will determine in detail the nature of that future relationship, but as I’ve said earlier, I think it is absolutely clear that that partnership, that economic partnership, will be one and can be one that will be of benefit both to German businesses that want to continue to operate and trade with the United Kingdom, and the UK business that want to continue to trade and cooperate with Germany and with other members of the remaining EU 27.

And what we’re looking at is, I believe, a comprehensive and ambitious partnership. One that isn’t based on an existing model, but one that actually recognises the different position of the United Kingdom as we leave the European Union, recognises the close ties we already have and recognises the importance of those trade links and those businesses cooperating that will have been – you referred to from Germany – German companies. That obviously is also important to UK companies as well.

Question: Prime Minister, you say that this is a two-way process. Do you accept, though, that it is for the British government to set out what its plans are and not for the EU to make you an offer?

And to the Chancellor, what the Prime Minister just said is that she wants a negotiation that is not based on any current models. Is that not cherry picking, and do you think you can accept something that is bespoke in that way?

Prime Minister: On the first question, the point of negotiations is two parties sit down and talk about these issues and come to an agreement about those issues. As I said in – earlier in answer to the first question, we have, at different stages, set out and clarified different aspects of the future relationship that we want to have with the European Union. Tomorrow I’ll be doing that very clearly in relation to the security partnership. And that again will be a new arrangement.

I think that’s important because we’re all facing the same challenges and threats, and now is not the time for us to reduce cooperation. Now is the time for us to look to see how we can develop on the existing cooperation in a way that’s going to be dynamic and agile for the future. Because as the threats evolve, as they grow, they don’t recognise borders, so we need to continue that cooperation and be able to adapt to the threats as they come. So I’ll be setting out tomorrow in more detail what I think that security partnership should look like.

Chancellor Merkel: Well, it’s not absolutely – it is not absolutely a given that a situation that is already known and is not yet a traditional, a classical trade agreement means cherry picking. In the end, the outcome needs to be a fair balance that deviates, let’s say, from the single market and not as close a partnership as we’ve had, but I think one can find that. And we, as 27, will be very carefully vetting that process and see to it that it is as close as possible, but that it’s a difference to the current – to what currently Britain has as a member, which is what they want, and what the British people want. But this does not need – this does not mean that it needs to be cherry picking.

Question: Madam Chancellor, can you tell us what, for you, the two or three remaining most difficult bones of contentions are on the Brexit negotiations? And Mr Yıldırım yesterday actually on – handed over an invitation on behalf of President Erdoğan, and has this already met with a concrete answer?

And Prime Minister, Ireland is obviously a very tricky as regards Brexit. The Irish do not want – there is not to be a hard border, but at the same time you wish to leave the single market. So how does one shape this border in an acceptable way?

Chancellor Merkel: You first question was, sorry? Oh, the bones of contention. Well, what’s important is that on the day after the transition period has ended, all of those different areas actually work properly, so we have to be very careful that we have the right rules and regulations in place, for example to enable tourists to meet, their planes can start, that we have proper healthcare systems in place. All of that has to be settled. And then we have to think of trade relations and services relations. Where does Britain want to participate and where not? All of that will come out in the course of those negotiations, so there is not this one single crux of the matter, this one single bone of contention. It’s a very complex structure of negotiations, and we need to come to a fairly balanced approach for both sides. That’s what I intend, at least.

And on the visit to Turkey, I have taken note of this invitation. I also talked to President Erdoğan on the – about possible visits to Turkey, or perhaps the Turkish President coming here. But we haven’t made any specific sort of decision on this.

Prime Minister May: On the issue of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, the Irish government, the UK government and the people of Northern Ireland are all clear that there will be no hard border. When we came to the agreement of the Joint Report with the European Commission in December, which was the basis for the agreement that sufficient progress had been made to move to the next stage of the talks, we set out various ways in which that could be addressed. As the Taoiseach said on Monday, the preference is for that to be done – the arrangement to be part of the overall agreement that the UK will have with the European Union. That is looking at that new partnership where there will be a new balance of rights and obligations that we have to – will be discussing through the next stage of the negotiations.

Theresa May – 2018 Statement at Stormont House

Below is the text of the speech made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, at Stormont House in Northern Ireland on 12 February 2018.

Today I have been meeting the leaders of the main parties involved in the talks and I have urged them to make one final push for the sake of the people here in Northern Ireland.

It has been thirteen long months since we last saw devolved government here and I think we are now at the point of where it is time for the locally elected representatives to find a way to work together and to deal with and tackle the many pressing issues facing Northern Ireland.

I have had full and frank conversations with the five parties. I’ve also met with the Taoiseach.

And while some differences remain I believe that it is possible to see the basis of an agreement here. There is the basis of an agreement and it should be possible to see an Executive up and running in Northern Ireland very soon.

The DUP and Sinn Fein have been working very hard to close the remaining gaps. But I would also like to recognise the contribution of other parties here in Northern Ireland too.

What I am clear about is that we are all fully committed to doing everything we can to support this process – and as far as Westminster is concerned we stand ready to legislate for the re-establishment of an Executive as soon as possible after an agreement.

Theresa May – 2018 Speech at Vote 100

Below is the text of the speech made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, at Vote 100 at Westminster Hall, in London, on 6 February 2018.

The 6th of February 1918 may not be as well-known or instantly recognisable as the dates of the wars, battles and coronations that have shaped our nation’s history.

But there is no doubt it was a day that forever changed our nation’s future. A day when, for the first time, we went from being a country where most people could not vote to one where most people could.

It was another decade before equal suffrage was achieved.

But on that February day – seven centuries after Magna Carta, almost 90 years after the Great Reform Act – the Mother of Parliaments finally earned the right to call itself a true democracy.

A 1909 postcard published by the Women Writers Suffrage League shows a woman being dragged from the feet of Justice by the masked thug of Prejudice. And so it was in real life.

Because the right to vote was not handed over willingly. Rather it had to be forced, over many years of struggle, from the hands of those who held it for themselves. All around us here today are reminders of what that struggle looked like.

Through that small door away to my right is the cupboard where Emily Wilding Davison hid on census night. Up the stairs is St Stephen’s Hall, where the statue of Viscount Falkland still bears the mark of Margery Humes, who chained herself to its spur.

Outside, beyond the grand arched window, lie New Palace Yard and Parliament Square, scene of such brutality when suffragettes clashed with police on Black Friday. Now these stories now dwell in the history books, dusted off to share with visiting constituents and schoolchildren. Yet in this hall tonight we see the living legacy of the suffrage campaigners. Hundreds of female Parliamentarians, past and present.

Women who serve or have served as ministers and shadow ministers. A female former Speaker of the House of Commons. A female Prime Minister.

A century after women won the right to send MPs to Westminster, nearly all the parties represented here have a female leader or deputy leader.

The women in this hall come from every corner of the country, indeed from right across the world.

We represent many parties and almost every point on the political spectrum.

None of us are exactly alike, none of our stories are the same.

Yet every one of us is here today because of the heroic, tireless struggle of those who came before us.

Women who led a campaign not just for themselves or their families, but for generations as yet unborn.

Of course, women were not the only people brought into public life by the 1918 act.

It also enfranchised, for the first time, more than five million working class men. Men who – for four, bloody years – had been expected to fight and die for their country, yet had not been trusted with the right to choose who governed it.

So the granting of Royal Assent was a truly momentous moment in our history. Yet when it came, the celebrations were muted.

In 1918, Europe was still at war. In the words of Emmeline Pankhurst – the founder of the Women’s Social and Political Union, who I’m proud to say was later adopted as a candidate for the Conservative Party – “the sorrows of the world conflict precluded jubilations”. A century on, we’re putting that right.

And not just this evening. As we’ve heard, the celebrations and commemorations will run all year long, both in here in Parliament and across the country.

In an age where millions around the world are denied the right to vote and millions here at home are apathetic about exercising it, it’s only right that we all learn more about those who fought so hard to extend the franchise.

We don’t hear enough about these Edwardian radicals.

In fact I think for many people, the first time many of us encounter the suffragettes is when we see Mrs Banks in Mary Poppins. It’s certainly an entertaining introduction to the “soldiers in petticoats”. But in terms of detail I think it leaves a little bit to be desired.

We owe such a debt to the suffrage campaigners that they deserve greater recognition. And that’s why, later this year, a statue of Millicent Fawcett will be unveiled in Parliament Square, It’s why the government is also helping to fund a statue of Emmeline Pankhurst in her home town of Manchester.

And it’s why the Government has put £5 million towards events marking this year’s centenary. Events that will recognise and celebrate not just the Pankhursts and the Fawcetts, significant though they were. But also the many other women whose roles are often overlooked. Marion Wallace Dunlop, the illustrator of children’s books who staged the first suffragette hunger strike. Sophia Duleep Singh, the Maharaja’s daughter who faced both sexual and racial prejudice as she played a leading role in the Women’s Tax Resistance League.

Helen Ogston, the “woman with the whip”, who in 1908 was driven from the stage by an angry mob during a suffrage rally in Maidenhead – a town that, many years later, I have the privilege of representing in Parliament. And, of course, the thousands – tens of thousands – of ordinary women and men whose names are lost to history. Some risked arrest and imprisonment. Others were forced out of their jobs. All faced being shunned by family, friends and society.

Yet each played their part in securing a right we should never take for granted – and a right that is still not secure today. Because a century after women were first enfranchised, some are still prevented from taking their place on the electoral roll. Many survivors of domestic abuse are unable to register for fear of revealing their address to an ex-partner. That effectively means the threat of violence is removing women’s right to vote, something that is simply unacceptable. That’s why just before Christmas, the Government laid a series of statutory instruments that will make it easier for those who are at risk of abuse to register and vote anonymously.

Those changes will be debated in the House of Commons tomorrow. I’m sure that, in the week of this significant anniversary for women voters, MPs of all parties will set aside their differences to support this important change.

The need to expand anonymous registration is a reminder that the Act we’re commemorating tonight was only one step on a long journey.

I’m the 54th person to be Prime Minister of this country, but only the second to be a woman. Women make up half the population of this country, yet only a third of its MPs. I’ve long campaigned to get more women into public life at all levels. It’s not about appearances, or even just about giving women an equal chance to get on. I want to see more women in politics and government because greater female representation makes a real difference to everyone’s lives.

The same is true of the many other groups who do not see themselves properly reflected in public life.

People from minority ethnic groups, members of the LGBT community, people with disabilities, or those from less privileged backgrounds. At last year’s election, the proportion of MPs who were educated at comprehensive schools reached a record high – but it’s still just 51 per cent.

So let us celebrate this centenary, and give thanks to those who gave their all so that we might be here today.

But let us also commit ourselves to continuing their work.

To carrying forward the torch they passed to us.

To securing the rights they fought for and ensuring that everyone, regardless of background, is able to play a full and active role in our democracy.

The brave women and men who came before us left us the most precious inheritance.

Now let us all, through words and deeds, be their fitting heirs.

Theresa May – 2018 Speech on Standards in Public Life

Below is the text of the speech made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, in Manchester on 6 February 2018.

One hundred years ago today British democracy was transformed. With the passage of the Representation of the People Act on 6 February 1918, most women aged over 30 and the 40% of men who did not own property gained the right to vote in Parliamentary elections for the first time, and with it, a say in making the laws of the land.

It was a great expansion of democratic participation – tripling the size of the electorate and empowering voices and perspectives which for centuries had been excluded.

Gender equality at the ballot box was not achieved for another ten years, and I am proud to say under a Conservative government.

But with the 1918 Act, the die was cast.

And it is wonderful to be here in Manchester to mark its anniversary. This great city was one of the centres of activism for women’s suffrage. It was the birthplace and home of one of the icons of the movement, Emmeline Pankhurst. I heard about the campaign for women’s votes from my godmother, whose parents were active in the cause and knew the Pankhursts.

So I am delighted that this year, with funding from the government, a statue of Mrs Pankhurst will be erected in this city as a lasting monument to her courage and vision.

And as Leader of the Conservative Party, and the co-founder of Women2Win, which works to encourage more women to stand for public office, I am proud that Emmeline Pankhurst was one of our pioneers, being selected as the Conservative candidate for the Whitechapel and St Georges constituency in east London in 1928. And the simple fact is that we don’t have nearly enough monuments to the great women of our country’s past – and I am pleased that we are now starting to set that right.

Today we celebrate a huge and irreversible step towards creating a truly universal democracy, and the beginning of a representative public debate.

But I also want to take this opportunity to reflect on the nature of our public life today.

As we remember the heroic campaigners of the past, who fought to include the voices of all citizens in our public debate we should consider the values and principles that guide our conduct today, and how we can maintain a healthy public debate for the future.

For while there is much to celebrate, I worry that our public debate today is coarsening.

That for some it is becoming harder to disagree, without also demeaning opposing viewpoints in the process. I believe that all of us – individuals, governments, and media old and new – must accept our responsibility to help sustain a genuinely pluralistic public debate.

Freedom of speech in a democracy

In that task we build on the finest of traditions and the firmest of foundations. Britain’s liberal democracy has long been respected around the world for its tolerance and decency. It is defined by values which have a universal appeal. Freedom of thought and expression within laws which are democratically made. The competition of ideas leading to collective progress and improvement. Respect for those with different viewpoints.

These principles have been at the heart of the British tradition of liberty for generations. From John Milton at the height of the English Civil War arguing against censorship and in favour of the ‘free and open encounter’ of different opinions, to John Stuart Mill in the nineteenth century, advocating ‘searching for and discovering the truth’ by way of free speech and debate, a philosophy of freedom of expression in an atmosphere of mutual tolerance has been one of this country’s great intellectual gifts to the world.

In an open market-place of ideas in which different viewpoints can coexist and people are free to make the case for their own beliefs opinions can be changed, arguments won and progress achieved.

Votes for Women

Mill, working in collaboration with his wife Harriet Taylor, was a leading advocate of women’s rights. But the cause of women’s suffrage had to overcome entrenched opposition, just to be heard. As an early campaigner, Margaret Wynne Nevinson, wrote:

Sometimes, the hostility of the people was so great that the police were alarmed. Occasionally, we were taken to the police station and kept there for safety till far into the night.

Those who fought to establish their right – my right, every woman’s right – to vote in elections, to stand for office and to take their full and rightful place in public life did so in the face of fierce opposition.

They persevered in spite of all danger and discouragement because they knew their cause was right.

Eventually, through a free and open encounter with the opposing view, the truth of their arguments won the day. And we are all in their debt.

Progress to be proud of

A century on from the first votes for women, we can look back with pride on the enormous strides which we have taken as a society.

A century ago women were forbidden the franchise, could not sit on a jury or be admitted into the professions. Today, I am proud to serve as Britain’s second female prime minister in a Parliament with more female MPs than ever before.

In 2018, the United Kingdom’s most senior judge is a woman. The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police is a woman. The Director of the National Crime Agency is a woman. Women serve as England’s Chief Fire Officer and Chief Medical Officer. The CBI and the TUC are both headed by women. At Holyrood, a female First Minister debates against a female opposition leader. In the National Assembly for Wales, a woman leads the third party. The two largest parties in Northern Ireland are led by women. And at Westminster, where suffragettes chained themselves to statues and hid in a broom cupboard on census night, the Leaders of the House of Commons and the House of Lords are women. Black Rod, whose predecessor ejected suffragettes from the palace precincts, is a woman. A century ago the Home Secretary and Director of Public Prosecutions were grappling with the direct action of suffragettes. Today, both those offices are held by women. And just like the movement for women’s votes, many other causes began as marginal and unpopular campaigns. They sent down their first roots into the stony ground of indifference and hostility.

They were championed by courageous people from all parties and none who braved abuse and ridicule, violence and persecution in a tireless quest for justice.

Sixty years ago, being gay was a crime and it was legal to discriminate on the basis of race.

Fifty years ago firms could advertise the same jobs with different salaries for men and women.

Thirty years ago, there was no legal compulsion to provide facilities for disabled people.

Today there are more openly gay people in prominent positions in public life than ever before.

More people from black, Asian, and minority ethnic backgrounds are in Parliament, in the media and business.

And disabled people play a more active role in our society than they ever have.

Real injustices still remain for women, for LGBT people, for black and minority ethnic Britons, for people from poorer families and for people with disabilities.

But if we cast our eyes back to well within living memory, we can see just how far we have come.

These improvements have been achieved through free and open debate leading to progressive, democratic change.

Collectively, they have helped to create an ideal as yet still not fully realised, but closer today than it has ever been of a public sphere where wealth, gender, sexuality, race, and disability present no barrier to full and active participation on a basis of equality.

A society where every voice counts. And when everyone has a say in the laws and policies of our country, everyone benefits. I have seen it in during my years in Parliament. As it has become a more diverse and representative place, it has better reflected the concerns of all sections of society. And in my experience, women often bring a different approach to politics than do men. For women, politics can be as much about listening and learning from others as it is about broadcasting your own views and opinions. And that is all to the good. Because when there isn’t just one way of doing things or one perspective on an issue, our understanding is enriched and we can achieve better outcomes.

The threat to our public debate

But today, the ideal of a truly plural and open public sphere where everyone can take part is in danger. A tone of bitterness and aggression has entered into our public debate. In public life, and increasingly in private conversations too, it is becoming harder and harder to conduct any political discussion, on any issue, without it descending into tribalism and rancour.

Participants in local and national public life – from candidates and elected representatives to campaigners, journalists and commentators – have to contend with regular and sustained abuse.

Often this takes the form of overt intimidation. Social media and digital communication – which in themselves can and should be forces for good in our democracy – are being exploited and abused, often anonymously.

British democracy has always been robust and oppositional. But a line is crossed when disagreement mutates into intimidation. When putting across your point of view becomes trying to exclude and intimidate those with whom you disagree.

Women in the nineteenth century had to contend with open hostility and abuse to win their right to vote in the twenty-first century it cannot be acceptable for any women – or any person – to have to face threats and intimidation simply because she or he has dared to express a political opinion.

Sadly, that has all too often become the case.

A hundred years after bringing all voices – male and female, rich and poor – within our Parliamentary democracy we now face the prospect of our country’s public debate becoming oppressively hostile and participation in it a risk which many are unprepared to run.

We can all see this change happening and I know that many share my concern about it.

Just last week, the Leader of Haringey council resigned, citing, ‘sexism, bullying, undemocratic behaviour and outright personal attacks’ which had left her ‘disappointed and disillusioned.’

It is a depressing coincidence that in the week we are celebrating the first inclusion of women in the democratic process, one of the most senior women in local government has in effect been hounded out of office. In our universities, which should be bastions of free thought and expression, we have seen the efforts of politicians and academics to engage in open debate frustrated by an aggressive and intolerant minority. It is time we asked ourselves seriously whether we really want it to be like this. Whether we are prepared to accept a permanent coarsening and toxifying of our public debate, or whether, together, we will take a stand for decency, tolerance and respect.

Whether we choose to be a society in which we define ourselves by our differences or whether we want to be members of a community of common interest.

Those of us – the vast majority of all political persuasions – who want a healthy and pluralist public debate, where civility and tolerance are the default setting and abuse and intimidation have no place where every voice counts and no one is bullied out of speaking their mind have a responsibility to stand up and help deliver it.

Action we will take

Last year I commissioned the Committee on Standards in Public Life to conduct an investigation into intimidation following last year’s general election.

Their report makes sobering reading.

In this centenary year of votes for women its finding that ‘candidates who are female, black and minority ethnic or LGBT are disproportionately targeted in terms of scale, intensity and vitriol’ is a cause of deep concern. Such abuse risks undermining the diverse democracy which we have built in this country over succeeding generations.

But the committee’s report also points the way forward.

It presents a credible plan of action to help build a more civil public debate and I welcome its recommendations. All of us in public life have a responsibility to challenge and report intimidating behaviour wherever it occurs.

We must all seek to uphold the highest standards of conduct.

We must set a tone in public discourse which is neither dehumanising nor derogatory and which recognises the rights of others to participate.

In word and in deed we should never engender hatred or hostility towards individuals because of their personal characteristics.

And we must not allow disagreements about policy or questions of professional competence to lead to vitriol and hostility.

These responsibilities fall on each of us as individuals, and collectively on the political parties.

My Party has already put in place a new code of conduct for all representatives which puts respect and decency at its core.

And we have proposed that the other political parties follow us in signing a respect pledge for all campaigning, and I hope that they will take us up on that suggestion.

For its part, the government will act on the Committee’s recommendations.

We will take action to make our electoral process more robust and offer greater protections for people taking part in elections.

While intimidation is already a crime, we will consult on making it an offence in electoral law to intimidate candidates and campaigners.

And because some candidates and their families have been targeted for abuse in their own homes, we will extend to candidates for local government the same protection which parliamentary candidates have to keep their home addresses secret.

I can also confirm that the National Police Chiefs Council and the College of Policing will implement each of the recommendations in the report which refer to them.

This includes ensuring a clear standard is set for the police when dealing with intimidation and online activity during an election.

And it is online where some of the most troubling behaviour now occurs.

Social media

Social media is one of the defining technologies of our age. For millions of people, particularly young people, it is the means by which they engage with the world, express opinions and communicate with family and friends. In many cases this is clearly a force for good. More voices can find clearer and wider expression. Campaigns can gain publicity and traction.

Through the ‘Me Too’ movement, victims of sexual harassment and assault have felt empowered to speak out using social media.

But as well as being places for empowering self-expression, online platforms can become places of intimidation and abuse.

This is true for children facing the daily misery of online bullying, where a smartphone allows their persecutors in effect to follow them home and continue to torment them even after school has finished. And it is also true for many adults. This squanders the opportunity new technology affords us to drive up political engagement, and can have the perverse effect of putting off participation from those who are not prepared to tolerate the levels of abuse which exist. The Committee on Standards in Public Life makes a number of recommendations for action which social media companies can take to address this problem.

It sets them a clear challenge to do much more to ‘prevent users of their platforms from being inundated with hostile messages on their platforms, and to support victims of this behaviour.’ The social media companies themselves must now step up and set out how they will respond positively to those recommendations So far, their response has been encouraging, and I hope they will continue in that spirit. For its part, the government will publish our Internet Safety Strategy in the spring. It will set out details of a comprehensive new social media code of practice. It will cover the full range of issues we considered in our green paper – from enforcing community guidelines, to preventing the misuse of services.

It will make it easier for people to report inappropriate, bullying and harmful content when they come across it and ensure that firms have clear policies for taking this content down.

We will also establish a new Annual Internet Safety Transparency Report, to provide UK-level data on what offensive online content is being reported, how social media companies are responding to complaints, and what material is removed.

And to ensure that the criminal law, which was drafted long before the creation of social media platforms, is appropriate to meet the challenges posed by this new technology, the Law Commission will conduct a review of the legislation relating to online offensive communications.

The Committee on Standards in Public Life also called for the government to legislate to shift the liability of illegal content online towards social media companies.

These platforms are clearly no longer just passive hosts of the opinions of others, so we will look at the legal liability that social media companies have for the content shared on their sites.

The issue is far from straightforward, so we will consider carefully what approach we should take.

We are already working closely with international partners and social media companies themselves, to understand how we can make the existing frameworks and definitions work better and assess whether there is a case for developing a new definition for these platforms.

Press sustainability

Changes in technology are also having a profound impact on one of the cornerstones of our public debate – our free press. Good quality journalism provides us with the information and analysis we need to inform our viewpoints and conduct a genuine discussion. It is a huge force for good.

But in recent years, especially in local journalism, we have seen falling circulations, a hollowing-out of local newsrooms and fears for the future sustainability of high-quality journalism. Over 200 local papers have closed since 2005.

Here in Greater Manchester, several local newspapers have closed, including the Salford Advertiser, the Trafford Advertiser and the Wilmslow Express.

This is dangerous for our democracy.

When trusted and credible news sources decline, we can become vulnerable to news which is untrustworthy.

So to address this challenge to our public debate, we will launch a review to examine the sustainability of our national and local press.

It will look at the different business models for high-quality journalism. And because digital advertising is now one of the essential sources of revenue for newspapers, the review will analyse how that supply chain operates. It will consider whether the creators of content are getting their fair share of advertisement revenue. And it will recommend whether industry or government-led solutions can help improve the sustainability of the sector for the future. A free press is one of the foundations on which our democracy is built and it must be preserved.

Tolerance and decency

But the action we need to take to secure our democracy goes far beyond rules and reviews. It goes to the heart of how we conceive of political differences and, more profoundly, how we treat each other. At its best, British public life is characterised by the values which we have traditionally been most proud of as a nation. Fierce rivalry, yes, but also common decency. A rejection of extremism and absolutism. We have seen that spirit most clearly at some of our darkest moments. We saw it during the Second World War, when Conservative and Labour politicians put their rivalries and political differences aside to unite in defence of our common values. And we saw that spirit again recently, when Tessa Jowell made her deeply moving speech in the House of Lords about her own experience of suffering from a brain tumour and what more we can do to help people live well with cancer. She held peers from all parties spellbound, and all responded to a speech of great courage with an acknowledgement of our shared humanity. Because while political differences may separate us, and while those differences may at times be profound, so much more unites us. When we forget that fact, when we harden our hearts against those with whom we disagree when we exaggerate differences, doubt motives, accuse others of bad faith we risk destroying genuine debate and we leave open the path to extremism and intolerance.

We were reminded of that truth so tragically in 2016, when a politically-motivated extremist murdered the MP Jo Cox. Following that outrage, some inspirational words from Jo’s maiden speech rightly entered into our common political lexicon. Describing her experiences as a candidate, the new MP for Batley and Spen, said:

While we celebrate our diversity, what surprises me time and time again as I travel around the constituency is that we are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us.

It is a lesson which we must never forget.

Conclusion

That sentiment chimes much more closely with how the public feel about politics than do shrill and tribal insults. Most people don’t view politics through an ideological prism. They want politicians to work together to improve their lives and our country. They expect disagreements and debate about the best way forward. But they also want practical solutions which will improve people’s lives. As the famous suffragette battle cry put it – they want ‘deeds not words’.

And each day in Downing Street when I pass the framed portraits of my 53 predecessors, 52 of whom were men I focus not on what I can say but on what I can do to make our country a better place.

Negotiating a Brexit deal that respects the vote of the people and delivers a prosperous future for everyone.

Improving our schools, our colleges, and our universities, so every young person in this country, male or female, from every background, has the greatest chance to get on and do well in life.

Tackling the injustices which still hold too many people back.

And as the woman at the head of our country’s government, a century after my grandmothers were first given the right to vote, my mission is clear.

To build that better future for all our people, a country that works for everyone, and a democracy in which every voice is heard.

Theresa May – 2018 Speech in Shanghai

Below is the text of the speech made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, in Shanghai, China on 2 February 2018.

Thank you very much, Jack, and good morning everyone. And let me just say it’s a pleasure to see so many Chinese and British business leaders sitting side by side here today. I think It’s a very real expression of the golden era of relations between our countries.

I’ve talked a lot with my Chinese counterparts about this growing partnership between our two countries, but it’s important to recognise that it isn’t just about governments. It’s about businesses. About people. About bringing the UK and China closer together so that we can all share in the benefits of growth.

We meet today at a crucial time in the history and future of both our countries. Last year, at Davos, President Xi set out the case for globalisation and committed to a more open Chinese economy – a vision the UK is keen to help you bring to life.

Meanwhile, the UK is preparing to leave the European Union. We’re seizing the opportunity to become an ever-more outward-looking Global Britain, deepening our trade relations with nations around the world – including China.

Now this is my first time in Shanghai. On this side of the Huangpu, the eclectic old buildings speak to us of China’s history. On the opposite bank, the towering skyscrapers of Pudong say much about its future.

More than that, the Bund itself is testament to the deep historical roots of the UK’s trading links with China. The very building we meet in today started life as the home of a British ship-builder, the historic lifeblood of global trade. The Custom House clock, the international symbol of Shanghai, was made in Shropshire; its bells were cast in Leicestershire.

And just as the Bund says much about our trading past, the size of the audience today and the breadth of sectors represented, speaks volumes about the strength of our relationship in 2018.

Trade between our nations is worth almost £60 billion and rising. Chinese investment is helping the UK develop infrastructure and create jobs. Nearly 50,000 British businesses import goods from China, while more than 10,000 sell their goods to customers here.

And our businesses are already working closely with one another, real commercial partnerships that bring real benefits. Just look at Astra Zeneca and Alibaba, coming together to build a smart health system in Wuxi so chest patients get vital treatment more quickly.

As I’ve travelled around China over the last few days, I’ve seen that we have the potential to do so much more together.

In Wuhan, in Beijing and now here in Shanghai I’ve been struck by the level of enthusiasm for British brands, British culture, British goods and British services.

And that’s why I am accompanied on this trip by a business delegation representing businesses of every size and shape, representing many different sectors and hailing from every corner of the UK.

Some have long established contacts here in China.

Others are visiting for the very first time.

But all are completely committed to forging lasting relationships with businesses, investors and customers in your country.

This week, they’ve been finalising deals in sectors as diverse as financial services, education, energy and healthcare. Aston Martin has announced that it will significantly increase its operations in China with a five-year export drive worth £600m, and will have more than 20 showrooms across China.

And yesterday we unveiled a string of commercial deals in the cultural sector, increasing understanding and bringing our people closer together.

And I was particularly pleased to see the Busy Bees nursery group taking its place in the delegation. Late last year I enjoyed a marvellous visit to a nursery in my own constituency. Now they’re bringing their 35 years of expertise to Shanghai, with plans for a 230-place international pre-school here.

Now when people think of international trade I’m sure early-years childcare isn’t the first thing that springs to mind. But Busy Bees’ presence here shows just how diverse the British export offer is, just how much we have to offer in China.

While the business leaders have been negotiating commercial deals, I have been meeting with President Xi and Premier Li and discussing with them the importance of removing barriers to trade between our nations.

We’ve agreed on moves to bring more of the UK’s internationally renowned food and drink to China, to open up the market to some of Britain’s world-class financial services providers. And we have agreed a Trade and Investment Review, as a first step towards delivering ambitious future bilateral trade arrangements.

On Wednesday, Premier Li and I attended the inaugural meeting of the UK/China CEO Council.

Created with the full support of both governments, the council brings together 40 chief executives from some of Britain and China’s top businesses – many of them here today.

It creates a forum in which ideas and insights can be shared. But it is also a platform from which views, problems and solutions can be communicated to the top levels of government, giving senior business leaders the chance to help shape the future of the UK’s trade and investment relationship with China.

And it’s a future that excites me. Not just because of the possibilities for increased trade, impressive though they are. But also because of the possibilities for greater co-operation between our people.

China and the UK both have proud histories of innovation stretching hundreds, even thousands of years. That spirit of invention is still very much alive today, and if we pool our talents further the results could be extraordinary.

The fast-changing world we are in brings many opportunities for businesses in both our countries. And I support a partnership that allows us to exploit those opportunities, bringing together like-minded innovators and entrepreneurs to share knowledge, risk and investment.

For example, as I said in Davos last week, we are establishing the UK as a world leader in Artificial Intelligence, building on the success of companies like Deepmind.

I believe we have only just seen the beginning of what AI can achieve, something I discussed yesterday with President Xi. We agreed that prospects for collaboration in this area are ever-expanding.

But that is not all. In November I launched the UK’s modern industrial strategy. We set an ambition for Britain to be the most innovative country in the world. And we are backing that up with £7bn of additional investment in research and development over the coming years.

Then, in December we launched the UK-China Joint Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation Co-operation. It brings together scientists and innovators to drive sustainable growth and tackle global challenges.

The Strategy’s priority for 2018 is agri-tech, and that’s one reason why I was pleased to be able to visit the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing yesterday, seeing some of this cooperation first hand.

Next month, we’re organising the Great Festival of Innovation in Hong Kong and the Bay area. Over four days, the Festival will offer a series of thought-provoking and lively keynotes, masterclasses, showcases, installations and performances involving industry leaders, entrepreneurs, and artists.

With visitors from the UK and right across Asia, the festival will allow entrepreneurs to build partnerships and share the innovations that will drive the future of free trade. I hope that many of you will be able to attend.

One thing that I hope will come from the festival is a higher profile for female innovators. The UK and China together have the capacity to play a huge role in advocating for gender equality. But all too often those good intentions don’t lead to positive outcomes, and that’s something we should all be working to tackle.

Last year, the UK government signed a memorandum of understanding with the All China Women’s Federation, setting out our mutual resolve to improve gender equality. And I know this subject is also close to Jack’s heart. In 2015, Alibaba ran a global conference on women and entrepreneurship. And the company itself has a much larger female workforce, and more women on its board,than most international tech companies.

Around the world, young women benefit from seeing that. From seeing role models and trailblazers. Women who have succeeded in their field and shown that progress is possible. And that’s why I’m proud to have brought many inspirational women in my business delegation.

Women like Nancy Rothwell, who spoke to you earlier and whose university, Manchester, has excellent links with Wuhan, the first stop on my visit, as well as across China. And women like Heba Bevan, founder and CEO of AI company UtterBerry.

I’m nearing the end of what has been a fascinating and productive few days in China. I’ve seen our businesses making new alliances and forging new partnerships. I’ve seen our people learning about the world through education and about each other through culture.

And I’ve seen that China and the UK are determined to build on our deep and mature ties to promote national and global prosperity throughout the 21st century.

As President Xi, quoting Shakespeare, said to me yesterday, “What’s past is prologue.” And I wholeheartedly agree. The UK and China are opening a new chapter in our Golden Era.

Thank you.

Theresa May – 2018 Speech at Wuhan University

Below is the text of the speech made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, at Wuhan University in China on 31 January 2018.

Thank you very much everybody. And I’m very pleased to be able to be here today at Wuhan University on this, my first official financial visit to China. And as we build our golden era of UK-China relations, what we do between us as two peoples is so very important as a fundamental of that golden era. In fact, the first visit I made to a country outside the European Union when I became the British Prime Minister was to China. What I saw then was a very confident, a very forward-looking country, taking an increasing role on the world stage.

What I have seen today from the young students that I have met is an example of that confidence, that forward looking, that desire to take their country forward. And I can say from the students and young people I’ve met today that China is in good hands for the future.

Of course, later in my visit here in China, I will be meeting with President Xi and Premier Li, and discussing some of the mutual interests and challenges that we both share. One of them I will be looking at today here in Wuhan, which is how we develop a cleaner environment for the future. But as I said, what underpins our relations, and as we build our global strategic partnership, is the people-to-people links. And this Spirit of Youth festival is a very important example of that. And I would particularly like to thank Jiang Shuying for everything that she has been doing as the Spirit of Youth Ambassador, to encourage those links between young people in the United Kingdom and China.

And today I’ve met Chinese students who’ve studied in the UK, UK students who are studying here in China. We have more than 150,000 Chinese students in UK universities, and we have, as part of the visit I’m making here to China, a UK-China agreement on sharing knowledge of early years education. We look at university; sharing of university knowledge and expertise, but actually it’s also good to share in the early years of education as well. We are seeing more Mandarin being taught in UK schools, and of course thousands of UK students here in Chinese universities.

And today I’m pleased to announce that we are extending the Shanghai maths teacher exchange which has been, I believe, a very good example of our people-to-people links and one of mutual benefit to both our countries.

So, by learning with each other and from each other we can continue to develop the bonds of friendship that we value, and the bonds of friendship on which our golden era and UK-China relations are built, bringing our people closer together not just now, but for years to come in the future. And I hope – I say to the young people here, you will be the future leaders of your country, and I hope that in future years you will continue to strengthen the ties between the United Kingdom and China.

Theresa May – 2018 Speech in Beijing

Below is the text of the speech made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, in Beijing, China on 1 February 2018.

Thank you, thank you very much, Ambassador. And I would like to echo your comments about how great it is to see so many people here, both of the business delegation that I have brought over with me, but also friends here in China, who are doing so much to help to build this golden era of UK-China relations and see the links between the two countries developing and being enhanced for the future.

And as the Ambassador has said, those links are about trade and business, but they are also about culture, they’re about people-to-people links. And I think the more that we share through the creative and performing arts, the more that we share through creative industries, actually the more we understand each other’s countries, and that has benefits for trade and business as well.

And we have seen the number of Chinese tourists visiting the United Kingdom increase substantially in the last year or so, and we also see, of course, numbers of UK visitors coming here to China. We want to see both of those increasing. And for the Chinese visitors coming to the United Kingdom, we’re launching Find Your Great Britain; come and find great food, great relaxation, great scenery, great cultural heritage. But this isn’t just one-way, because I’ve just been talking about the fact that the Serpentine is coming to Beijing, the V&A is coming to Shenzhen, and we’re seeing these opportunities for those cultural exchanges to take place, and those are very important for us.

But it’s not just about that sort of culture either. We know that Doctor Who and Downton Abbey are great successes here in China. I have seen Downton Abbey and Doctor Who; I have not watched Octonauts, which is a UK children’s cartoon which is being enjoyed by millions of children here in China. And as a result of the trip that I’m on, we are seeing significant deals being struck on the media front as well, and that’s very good news too.

So, thank you to all of you for coming here. I think what I have found here in China is a real enthusiasm for the links between the United Kingdom and China, a real enthusiasm for building on those links for the future, for recognising the opportunities that we share, for recognising the complementary skills that we have in so many areas and how those can be developed to the advantage of people in the UK and people here in China.

So, yes, jobs will be created as a result of the deals that are being done. But also, there will be a greater understanding of each other’s countries and a greater understanding of the cultural heritage of both countries and of the culture of today. And that will bring people together, and that’s what this is about.

Thank you.