October 01, 2023

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly addressed Conservative Party Conference 2023 in Manchester

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly addressed Conservative Party Conference 2023 in Manchester.

Here is what he said:

It’s been a year since I’ve been appointed.
And in that time, I have been on over sixty international visits,
Have hosted over one hundred inward events,
I have had over seven hundred meetings or calls with foreign representatives,
I’ve also had the honour of accompanying His Majesty The King on two state visits.
And my ministerial team has worked just as hard.
And so, if you’re wondering where they are at the moment during this speech – they’re out in the wider world, promoting Britain on the world stage.
And all those meetings, all those visits, all those calls, has allowed me to hear first-hand what the world thinks of us. As a result, my view of Britain’s standing in the world has never been clearer.
People want to see us.
People care about what we say.
People admire what we stand for.
But perhaps most importantly, people respect what we do.
Far from being left on the sidelines, we remain right at the heart of things.
And we should all be immensely proud of our country’s standing on the world stage.
And let me explain why.
And let me explain to the people who think Brexit has hindered us.
Let me spell it out to the people who think our best years are behind us.
Let me make it clear to those on the Labour benches who want to play politics and put our country down.
This government, with Rishi Sunak at the helm, takes decisive measures and is prepared to take the tough, long-term decisions for the benefit of our country.
And so, of course we send emergency rescue teams to Morocco, and to Turkey and Syria in response to those terrible earthquakes.
And of course, we evacuate Brits caught up in the Sudan conflict.
But we also sign Free Trade Agreements with countries around the globe,
And we lead by example in our unrelenting support for Ukraine and call out Russia for its heinous crimes.
And we sanction the brutal Iranian judges who target brave women campaigning for nothing more than their freedoms.
We have consistently helped the worst-off in the world lift themselves out of poverty,
We have consistently fought injustice wherever we see it,
And we have consistently led the way in times of international crisis.
Some people ask me when they talk to me, they say ‘James, that’s all well and good, but why does foreign affairs matter to the British people?
How does it help the people of Braintree or Belfast, or Banchory or Bridgend?’.
It helps because when we engage with our allies, old or new, we are safer, and we become more prosperous.
The PM gets it. Our party gets it. You get it.
Keir Starmer and his crowd don’t get it. 
And over the last few years, of course we have seen incredibly tough global circumstances.
A global pandemic, and as my friend Grant just said, a brutal war on our own continent.
But because this Prime Minister was prepared to take the tough long-term decisions that we needed.
And we have thrived despite incredibly strong economic headwinds, powered by the pandemic and intensified by the war in Ukraine.
And because of his long-term decisions our economy is back to pre-pandemic levels and Britain has recovered quicker form that pandemic than Europe’s biggest economies.
Under this Prime Minister, we have made immense progress in very little time.
Under Starmer, Labour are all talk,
Under Sunak, we are about action. 
As I say, in the relatively time Rishi has been Prime Minister, let us look at what we have achieved.
We agreed the Windsor Framework in February,
We agreed the AUKUS deal in March,
The Hiroshima Accord in May,
The Atlantic Declaration in June,
We’ve come to agreements with Europe that will grow our economy, stop the boats, and make us safer.
Conference, we should all be proud of our country and incredibly proud of we achieved in this short period of time .
And the Prime Minister’s leadership has allowed us to take full advantage of the bold decision we made in 2016.
Let me give you a few facts and figures just to prove the point.
Last year, service exports reached a record high.
Exports of goods and services grew by over 20% in current prices and are likely to increase again this year.
And we remain the second largest services exporter in the world – behind only the United States of America which, I may remind you, has five times as many people as us.
And today, nearly 60% of UK exports go to non-EU countries – and that is up from 52% in 2010. And the long-term economic trend is clear.
And it’s one we expect not just to continue but to intensify.
And that’s why – because we are looking at the future, because we are facing forward - we recently concluded negotiations to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership – easier to say than you might believe.
And, actually, it took me longer to say it than it did for us to join it.
That’s because we are focused on building our friendships, our forces, and our relationships with the Indo-Pacific region.
It’s why we are pushing to conclude a trade deal with India,
an economy forecast to double in size by 2030, overtaking Japan and Germany as the world’s third largest economy.
And it’s markets like these that are the future, and we recognise their value to us will grow enormously.
And while we have a global outlook, Labour can hardly imagine a world beyond Brussels.
The world has gotten used to engaging with a new, independent Britain -
To engaging with a Britain that is free to forge its own destiny,
Free to ratify its own law,
And free to negotiate its own trade deals.
And our newfound independence has enabled us to repeatedly get ahead of events.
Whether that’s with the manufacturing of lifesaving vaccines, which then gave us the ability to lift out of lockdowns,
Or whether it’s the sanctioning Russians involved in the illegal, brutal and disgusting conduct both domestically and abroad.
And yes - I am especially proud of our record when it comes to the support of the people of Ukraine.
We foresaw the extent and intensity of the price of the fight President Zelensky and his brave people faced in February 2022.
And I consider it a personal privilege to have done what I can to maximise support for that courageous country.
But never let anyone forget that for almost a decade now, every Conservative Prime Minister has backed Ukraine.
From training Ukrainian troops after the initial invasion of Crimea in 2014, to standing up to Putin over the poisonings in Salisbury.
From arming Ukrainians with the MLRS when Russia first initiated their full-scale invasion, to sanctioning Putin and his cronies who brutalise the Ukrainian people.
And Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has continued this unwavering support.
He was the first world leader to supply Ukraine with NATO tanks.
The first leader to train fast jet fighter pilots.
The first leader to supply long range missiles to support those fighting on the frontlines.
And earlier this year, Rishi Sunak hosted the landmark Ukrainian Recovery Conference in London, where we secured billions in international funding so that Ukraine will be able to rebuild once they win this war.
Whilst I occupy this great office, I have considered the many challenges we face as a nation and have contemplated the ways of making my department more effective at tackling those obstacles.
For example, when it comes to stopping the boats, we have and will continue to coordinate and cooperate not just within government, but with our allies as well.
We have collaborated with the governments of countries where these inhumane people-smuggling gangs are based.
But I recognise that we need to keep going.
Today, I have written to all of our ambassadors and high commissioners.
I have instructed every ambassador, to do even more to work with the countries in which they represent the UK to help stop the abhorrent trafficking of human lives across the English Channel.
Be in no doubt, our diplomats will redouble their efforts to bring about an end to this terrible, terrible injustice.
Now, I’m incredibly proud of the diplomats I work alongside – I have no doubt that they are the best in the world.
But I want to ensure that our diplomatic service is truly representative of the UK.
And unsurprisingly, I believe that those who have served our nation on the battlefield can continue to contribute beyond their tours of duty.
Which is why I have tasked my officials to carve out a space in our diplomatic service for veterans.
And I look forward to working with Johnny Mercer, our Veterans Minister, to ensure that the men and women from our armed forces – who we know are among the best of us – to give them the opportunity to be the best of us representing the UK.
And you’ll forgive me, but it does make me immensely proud to offer those who served our country with unparalleled distinction:
The opportunity to serve once again.
Speaking of service and pride, you will know that I served as the Chairman of this great party during the 2019 election.
I remember the doomsters and gloomsters predicting another hung parliament, they predicted an outright Conservative loss or a modest Conservative gain.
And those were the people whose amazing predictions predated the most significant electoral victory of recent times, and an 80-seat Conservative majority.
And today, I see the same old politicians making the same old tired predictions. 
And when I look across the floor of the House of Commons, I see a group of spineless ditherers.
Devoid of answers to any of the challenges the world faces or that our country faces.
And yet, they are there - baying with disapproval at the tough but necessary decisions that governments have to make.
And where, I ask myself, is leadership from their leader?
Sir Keir can’t make up his mind on whether he supports leaving the EU or whether he supports remaining in the EU or rejoining the EU.
He pledged to cut tuition fees to get elected as Labour leader, and then went back on his promise as soon as he became Labour leader.
He resigned from Corbyn’s cabinet, then he rejoined Corbyn’s cabinet and campaigned to make Jeremy Corbyn Prime Minister.
What we see is no clarity, no consistency, no policies, no plan – only the same old, tired, opportunistic politics.
Keir Starmer’s Labour Party doesn’t stand for anything.
And whilst Sir Keir and his comrades represent the tired politics of the past, the Prime Minister is prepared to do things differently.
And why?
Because the Conservative Party believes in Britain’s epic potential and the Labour Party is unwilling to take the tough decisions that will ensure the prosperity and the safety of this country for generations to come.
Conference, I can think of nothing more counterproductive than handing over the keys of government to a group of political chancers and visionless ideologues.
It is a scenario I refuse to entertain.
Because a party that does not believe in Britain cannot be trusted to lead it.
Only the Conservatives have a plan for the future.
Only Conservatives will take the tough decisions that will keep us safe and keep us prosperous.
Only the Conservatives will stand with pride on the world stage.