Theresa May – 2016 Press Statement in Poland


Below is the text of the speech made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, in Warsaw, Poland on 28 July 2016.

I am delighted to be here in Warsaw today, in such a momentous week with the visit of Pope Francis and the celebration of World Youth Day.

I wanted to come here early on to tell you, Beata, and the people of Poland that Britain attaches a huge importance to the relationship between our 2 countries.

It is a partnership that goes back a long way, we will never forget the Polish pilots who braved the skies alongside us in World War II to stand up for freedom and democracy across Europe.

And it is a partnership that will endure long after the UK has left the European Union.

Indeed, today we have discussed how we can continue to deepen our co-operation, following on from the agreement late last year to work more closely together.

Let me say a few words on Brexit, the bilateral relationship and our security and defence co-operation.

First, we have discussed how we make a success of Brexit and work together to maximise the opportunities for both our countries.

The UK and the EU need to take time to work out our objectives for the negotiations on the UK’s departure and the future relationship.

As Prime Minister, I will seek to address the concerns of the British people about free movement, while recognising the importance of a close economic relationship between the UK and the EU.

Of course, there will be different interests and complex issues to resolve but I firmly believe that if we approach this in a constructive and positive spirit then we can pave the way for a calm and orderly departure.

In that context, I want to be clear that Poles living in the UK continue to be welcome and we value the contribution that they make to our country.

We condemned the shameful and despicable attacks against Polish communities and others in the wake of the referendum result.

Hate crime of any kind, directed against any community, race or religion, has absolutely no place in British society.

I understand that Poles currently living in the UK want to know whether they will retain their rights once the UK leaves the EU.

I want and expect to be able to guarantee their rights in the UK. The only circumstances in which that would not be possible would be if the rights of British citizens living across the EU were not guaranteed.

As I’ve said, the UK’s exit from the EU should not weaken our relationship with Poland, indeed we should strengthen it.

Last year, the UK was Poland’s second largest trading partner, and UK exports to Poland were worth more than £3 billion pounds.

We should keep up our broader co-operation on science, innovation and energy.

And we have agreed today that we will press ahead with annual bilateral summits to drive forward our relationship. And I have offered to host the first of those in the UK.

Co-operation on security and defence is one of the most important areas of our growing strategic relationship.

Britain and Poland are leading players in NATO and we both meet the commitment to spend 2% of our GDP on defence.

The United Kingdom will always stand by its NATO obligations, including ensuring the security and safety of Poland.

Only this month, at the NATO summit here in Warsaw, the UK committed to increasing the number of troops present along NATO’s Eastern flank, with the deployment of an infantry company here to Poland.

We are also working closely together to fight wider threats to global security.

Poland has played a leading role in international efforts to secure peace and stability, from Afghanistan to Ukraine.

And in the face of the ongoing terrorist attacks in Europe, it is vital that countries like the UK and Poland continue to counter Daesh in Iraq and Syria.

Working together is the best way to protect our way of life and our shared values from those who are intent on destroying them.

To conclude, Britain will continue to stand by our European partners and stand tall in the world.

Leaving the EU presents an opportunity to strengthen our relations with countries around the world.

And that is firmly what I intend to do.

I am looking forward to developing the strongest possible relationship with Poland, to working with you to make Brexit a success, and to safeguarding the security of all our people.