Theresa May – 2016 Statement in Paris


Below is the text of the statement made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, in Paris on 21 July 2016.

President Hollande, thank you for inviting me to Paris.

I am delighted to have this opportunity, so soon after taking office, to underline my commitment to the profound friendship between our countries and our peoples; a friendship that I believe has never been more important than it is today.

A week ago, France suffered another horrific terrorist attack and on behalf of all the British people, I offer our heartfelt condolences to all the loved ones of those who were so callously killed and injured in Nice, including a small number of British casualties.

These were innocent victims, murdered by terrorists who want to destroy our democracy and our way of life.

As the President and I have discussed today, we must never let them win.

Last year, in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack, we stood together and said to the world that we will not let these extremists divide us.

In November after the devastating attacks in Paris, British fighter pilots joined their French counterparts to attack and destroy Daesh in Syria.

Now, in the aftermath of another attack, it is Britain who will stand with you shoulder to shoulder as your great ally and friend.

The intelligence and security co-operation between our countries is something that will always endure – even after Britain has left the European Union.

As I have said Brexit means Brexit and I firmly believe we will make a success of it, not just for the UK but for our European partners too.

We will continue to work together to keep our people safe and to stand up for our values around the world.

We did so long before the European Union existed and we will continue to do so long after the UK has left.

That means, in addition to our growing co-operation on counter-terrorism, we will strengthen the wider strategic defence partnership between our two countries.

Britain brings a great deal to the table.

We will continue to meet our NATO obligation to spend 2 per cent of our GDP on defence and to keep our promise to spend 0.7 per cent of our national income on aid.

This week, as you have said Mr President, I made it my first act as Prime Minister in Parliament to secure the future of our nuclear deterrent.

Together with France, we are also working on the next generation of military equipment – including a 2 billion euro project to develop the most advanced combat air system anywhere in Europe.

Turning to our discussions on trade and economic co-operation, I have said to President Hollande that I want Britain to continue to work with our European partners to boost trade and economic growth in both our countries.

Last year the value of our bilateral trade reached 50 billion euros.

We are one another’s fifth largest export markets. Today French companies employ 360,000 people across the UK and we are the fourth largest investor in France.

This matters for both of us, so as the UK leaves the EU we will have to determine how to maintain the closest possible economic relationship between our countries.

And it will take time to prepare for those negotiations.

I understand the need for certainty and confidence in the markets and that is why I have already been clear that the UK will not invoke Article 50 until before the end of this year.

I hope that we can all make the most of the next six months to prepare for these discussions in a constructive way so that we maximise the opportunities for both the UK and the EU.

In the meantime, I want to reiterate that Britain remains open for business, that French citizens and their EU counterparts can continue to work in Britain – and they are very welcome in the UK.

To conclude, as I have said before, Britain is leaving the European Union, but we are not leaving Europe and we are not walking away from our friendship with France, or any of our other European partners.

Britain and France are two allies that stand together looking out to the world, fighting for the values we share.

As I said in my first speech as Prime Minister in the British Parliament this week: we share a firm belief in the values of liberté, égalité and fraternité.

And together we will always defend them.