Liz Truss – 2022 Speech to Conservative Spring Conference

The speech made by Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, in Blackpool on 19 March 2022.

As we meet here in Blackpool, we face a different world from the one we have known over the past decades.

Putin’s illegal, unprovoked invasion of Ukraine has shattered the notion that freedom is free.

It’s shattered our post-Cold War complacency.

It’s shattered our collective security.

I am proud that at this moment of peril, the Prime Minister and this Conservative government have stepped up to lead.

We’ve stepped up by providing lethal aid to Ukraine – the first European nation to do so – supporting with NLAW anti-tank weapons, and now anti-aircraft weapons.

We’ve stepped up, by leading the global effort on sanctions.

Hitting banks and oligarchs

Targeting mansions, yachts, and aircraft

Cutting Russia out of SWIFT

And leading the calls for Nord Stream 2 to be cancelled.

Our sanctions are crippling the Russian economy that funds Putin’s war machine.

And we’ve stepped up our leadership on humanitarian aid.

We’re the second largest aid donor – providing everything from generators to blankets to food.

And British people across the country are offering their homes to support Ukrainian people in need.

This is exactly what British foreign policy is.

We stand up to bullies.

We fight for freedom.

We galvanise allies around the world.

As Conservatives we have a deep responsibility to protect our historic liberties and our democracy.

We have a history of standing up to dictators.

We’re proud that it was a Conservative government that helped to end the Cold War and bring down the Berlin Wall.

We signed the Budapest Memorandum in 1994, protecting Ukraine’s sovereignty.

We cannot stand by and see these precious freedoms eroded and the clock turned back to the horrific oppression of the Soviet era.

We cannot and will not rest until Ukraine’s sovereignty is restored.

In our belief in freedom and democracy, we are joined by our friends from Ukraine.

We have been inspired by the incredible leadership of President Zelensky and the bravery of the Ukrainian people.

I am delighted we are joined today by their fantastic Ambassador Prystaiko.

Your country and your President have the admiration and respect of everyone here in Britain.

Our two nations understand how precious freedom is, and what it means to fight for it.

Our friends in Ukraine see and understand the strength of our support.

I hear some people in Ukraine sing God Save The Queen as they use British equipment – well – everyone in the UK is saying Slava Ukraini.

Our foreign policy is about standing up for freedom and democracy and Britain’s national interest.

That’s why we’ve worked so hard to secure the release of our citizens, Nazanin and Anoosheh from Iran.

I was delighted to welcome them back home to Britain in the early hours of Thursday morning.

And it’s also why we are determined to fix the Northern Ireland Protocol, and restore the balance of the Belfast Good Friday Agreement.

We need more flexibility from the EU.

We are prepared to do what it takes to protect the United Kingdom and ensure that all communities in Northern Ireland are treated fairly.

Now is the time to value what we have here.

This crisis has shown the strength of the free world.

It has shown the strength of democratic, free societies acting decisively in unison.

They are more powerful and determined.

Contrast the motivated Ukrainian freedom fighters with Putin’s demoralised, misled soldiers.

Contrast the decisive, crippling sanctions imposed by the G7 – from the UK to Japan to the EU to the US – with the weak Russian economy and the scant support they are getting internationally.

Contrast the spontaneous outburst of solidarity with Ukraine spreading across the world, with the tired lies emanating from Putin’s propaganda machine.

When we are free to speak out.

When we can choose our own government.

When we can control our own money.

It makes our nations stronger.

When people are free to choose – they choose freedom.

This strength is being shown right across the world, from South Korea to Canada to Germany.

This is what Conservatives stand for.

This is what is important.

This is what matters.

We should be proud of our country, and our long standing commitment to freedom and democracy.

Now is the time to end the culture of self-doubt.

The constant self-questioning and introspection.

The ludicrous debates about language, statues and pronouns.

Our history – warts and all – makes us what we are today.

We live in a great country, a great democracy and we should be proud of it.

When we’re facing a tyrant like Vladimir Putin, the only thing he understands is strength.

We need to defend our societies and never let down our guard again.

Our new trade and security deals are with our allies, not our opponents.

This is why AUKUS is so important – helping our Australian friends acquire the nuclear submarines to defend their territory.

This is why NATO is so important – and we are strengthening it for a new era.

The UK is the biggest European contributor to NATO.

We are increasing the numbers of UK troops in Estonia and Poland.

The United Kingdom needs to be strong economically as well as militarily.

We’re going to drive economic growth by delivering supply-side reform.

We’re using our Brexit freedoms to strike new trade deals, slash red tape and create new freeports.

We’re ending our dependency on authoritarian regimes.

The West focused on cheap goods at the expense of freedom and security.

Never again.

We’re banning Russian oil from our markets, we’ve ripped Huawei out of our phone networks and we have new vigilance on our critical supply chains.

We are seeing the most horrible scenes in Ukraine.

A war in Europe for the first time in decades.

We are seeing incredible bravery from the Ukrainians – and deeds of valour that will be written about for generations to come.

Britain has stepped up – now we must do even more.

Putin must lose in Ukraine. With Britain at the forefront, we will ensure he does.