Foreign AffairsSpeeches

Rishi Sunak – 2023 Opening Remarks at the White House

The opening remarks made by Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, in the United States on 8 June 2023.

Thank you, Mr President –

Before I begin my remarks – a word if I may on what happened in France this morning.

All our thoughts are with those affected by this unfathomable attack, including a British child and with their families.

I’ve been in touch with President Macron.

And we stand ready to offer any assistance that we can.

Mr President, Joe, it’s an honour to be here at the White House and thank you for your warm welcome.

Not for decades has the relationship between our two nations been so important.

The values we share – our belief in freedom, democracy, and the rule of law – have never changed.

They never will.

But what has changed, are the challenges we face.

And standing here together, as our predecessors have done for generations…

…I feel confident that through the strength of our relationship…

…we can shape the world once again in our pursuit of liberty, prosperity, and the possibilities of a new age.

That begins with our highest priority – national security.

Last time I was here in the US, we signed AUKUS – the most significant defence partnership in generations.

Because we recognise that the security of the Atlantic and Pacific regions are indivisible.   And just a fortnight ago, in Hiroshima, President Biden and I stood with President Zelenskyy and our G7 allies in a powerful display of unity.

The UK is proud of our contribution – including providing tanks, long-range weapons, and training Ukrainian soldiers.

But let no one doubt: US leadership and resources are the decisive contribution allowing the forces of democracy and freedom to prevail.

As I said in Congress, and I say again now to President Biden – and to the American people – thank you.

And just as we collaborate to protect our national security – so we must increasingly do the same to protect our economic security, on which our prosperity depends.

Countries like China and Russia are willing to manipulate and exploit our openness…

…steal our intellectual property, use technology for authoritarian ends, or withdraw crucial resources, like energy.

They will not succeed.

Today we have agreed the Atlantic Declaration – a new economic partnership for a new age, of a kind that has never been agreed before.

Yes, a partnership that protects our citizens.

But more than that, …a test case for the kind of reimagined alliances President has spoken so eloquently about.

That means new investment.

This week alone, £14bn of new American investment has been committed into the UK, creating thousands of jobs.

It means stronger supply chains, with a new action plan on clean energy.

And it means reducing trade barriers in the technologies of the future.

With a new, secure UK-US Data Bridge – helping tens of thousands of small businesses.

An agreement to work towards mutual recognition of more professional qualifications in areas like engineering…

And we’re launching negotiations on a new Critical Minerals Agreement.

Once concluded, this will give UK companies stronger access to the US market.

And we’re building on our extraordinary, shared strengths in cutting edge future technologies…

…with joint research collaborations in areas like quantum, semiconductors, and AI.

And our job as leaders is to ensure that this technological revolution makes us more secure and not less.

Last week, the pioneers of Artificial Intelligence warned us about the scale of the challenge, as well as the opportunity.

The US and the UK are the world’s foremost democratic AI powers.

So today, President Biden and I have agreed to work together on AI safety, including multilaterally.

The UK looks forward to hosting the first global summit on AI safety, later this year.

So that we can seize the extraordinary possibilities of this new technological age – and do so, with confidence.

And we are well placed to do so.

I know some people have wondered what kind of partner Britain would be after we left the EU.

I’d say: judge us by our actions.

We’re as committed to our values as ever, as reliable an ally as ever, as attractive an investment destination as ever.

But we’re changing, too.

We’re strengthening our relationships not just with old friends like America and in Europe…

…but with new friends in the Indo-Pacific, too.

And we now have the freedom to regulate the new technologies that will shape our economic future – like AI – more quickly and flexibly.

That is the future we are creating in Britain – confident, proud, and free.
Let me close, with a personal reflection.

As Joe mentioned, he and I have seen quite a lot of each other in recent months. I gather our wives have even started to take spin classes together.

We were talking earlier about our hometowns.

Joe is very rightly proud of Scranton.

And I was telling him a bit about Southampton in England, where I’m from.

Not everyone knows this, but it was in a church in Southampton where…

…in the days before he set sail for these shores…

…that John Winthrop first spoke about his dream of building a city on a hill.

And that reminds us that the relationship between our two nations is unlike any other.

Our alliance is so strong because it is not abstract – it is rooted in our people.

And it’s never been about our history alone, but our ability to grasp the future.

We share the same beliefs, pursue the same purpose, and act according to the same ideals.

And that’s why today, as we meet the challenges of our time, we can depend upon each other with absolute conviction.

When the United States and the United Kingdom stand together, the world is a safer, better, and more prosperous place.

That’s why ours is the indispensable alliance.

Thank you.