British Prime Minister Theresa May addressed ascendant Republicans who are meeting in Philadelphia, touting their election victories even as she defended free trade and international institutions that could be under fire under President Donald Trump.
May exceeded the traditional praise for U.S. political and military accomplishments often bestowed by visiting leaders, congratulating the GOP for elections that handed the party unified control of government – and got a big standing ovation herself.
Speaking to Republicans at a party retreat, she said President Trump’s victory was ‘achieved in defiance of all the pundits and the polls and rooted not in the corridors of Washington but in the hopes and aspirations of working men and women ax this land.’
She credited Republicans for ‘your party’s victory in both the Congress and the Senate, where you swept all before you, secured with great effort and achieved with an important message of national renewal.’
May quoted Ronald Reagan and Winston Churchill – a figure of renewed interest now that Trump has reinstalled a bust of him in the Oval Office and she is loaning one owned by the British government.
The U.S. and Great Britain prevailed in the Cold War by ‘confronting communism and ultimately defeating it not just through military might, but by winning the war of ideas,’ she said. ‘And by proving that open liberal democratic societies will always defeat those that are closed, coercive and cruel.’
Later in her remarks, she mentioned Russian President Vladimir Putin by name, after repeated reports of Russian-backed election hacking both in the U.S. and other allied nations.
‘With president Putin my advice is to engage, but beware,’ she said, after invoking Reagan’s ‘Trust, but verify’ adage for dealing with the Soviets.
She peppered her remarks with historical references about the special relationship between the U.S. and Britain, both to bolster the case for a bilateral trade deal and to bolster some of the institutions about to fall under fire.
On Wednesday, the New York Times reported on a draft executive order that would call for 40 per cent cuts to the UN and international organizations.
‘The institutions upon which that world relies were so often conceived and inspired by our two nations working together,’ May said.
‘The United Nations, in need of reform but vital still, has its foundations in the special relationship from the original declaration of St. James Palace to the declaration by united nations signed in Washington and drafted themselves by Winston Churchill and President Franklin D. Roosevelt,’ she said.
She talked up multilateral institutions, noting that ‘so many of the threats we face, global terrorism, climate change … do not respect national borders.’
She also lauded the NATO alliance, even as she noted the need for members states to pay up, and told Republicans ‘I share your reform agenda’ for international institutions.
Pitching a post-Brexit trade deal with the U.S, she said, ‘And it must work for those who have too often felt left behind by the forces of globalization.’
She hailed free trade generally, on a day when White House press secretary Sean Spicer floated a 20 per cent tariff on Mexican imports to pay for a border wall Trump wants to build.
She said the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund were ‘born in the postwar world at Bretton Woods’ and were conceived ‘by our two nations working together.’
She called NATO – another organization Trump has questioned – the ‘cornerstone of the west’s defense’ as being established on the ‘bonds of trust and mutual interest that exist between us.’
‘Some of these organizations are in need of reform and renewal to make them relevant to our needs today,’ she said.
Speaking to Russia, as lawmakers contemplate the fate of economic sanctions while Trump tries to engineer a thaw, she said: ‘There is nothing inevitable about conflict between Russia and the West.
And nothing unavoidable about retreating to the days of the Cold War. But we should engage with Russia from a position of strength.’
She called on Britain and the U.S. to lead the world rather than stand ‘idly by.’
But she acknowledged, ‘The days of Britain and America intervening in sovereign countries in an attempt to remake the world in our own image are over.’
On Iran, one nation where U.S. and British intervention played out in the past, she called for curbing the ‘malign’ influence of the regime.
Her internationalist comments were in part a rebuke to Trump, who is calling for an ‘America first’ foreign policy.
A draft executive order revealed by the New York Times Wednesday would slash funding for international institutions. Trump has called for other nation’s to pay up in their defense commitments to NATO. And he has scrapped a Trans Pacific partnership and called for renegotiating NAFTA.
May called for being a globalist and ‘internationalist in spirit.’
Source: Daily Mail