British Prime Minister Theresa May told US Republicans Thursday that instances of the United States and United Kingdom intervening militarily in foreign countries must only come when the two countries’ national interests are at stake.
“The days of Britain and America intervening in sovereign countries in an attempt to remake the world in our own image are over. But nor can we afford to stand idly by when the threat is real and when it is in our own interests to intervene,” she told GOP leaders gathered at retreat in Philadelphia.
May said the leadership provided by the United States and United Kingdom not only helped win wars and overcome trouble, “it made the modern world.”
She added that the two nations have a responsibility to lead.
“Because when others step up as we step back, it is bad for America, for Britain and the world,” she said.
May congratulated the Republicans on their election victories in November.
“Because of this, because of what you have done together, because of that great victory you have won, America can be stronger, greater, and more confident in the years ahead,” she said to applause. “And a newly emboldened, confident America is good for the world.”
She praised the stunning win of US President Donald Trump, saying it came in defiance of “pundits and polls” and echoed the hopes of working Americans.
May reminded the audience that like them she, too, is a conservative and someone who believes in putting power in the “hands of the people.”
She spoke strongly about NATO, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
“Some of these organizations are in need of reform and renewal to make them relevant to our needs today,” she said. “But we should be proud of the role our nations, working in partnership, played in bringing them into being.”
Quentin Peel — a fellow with the Europe Programme at Chatham House, an independent policy institute based in London — called May’s remarks a forceful speech.
“I was expecting her to be a little more diplomatic. She was very clear on certain things on which Donald Trump doesn’t look so clear,” he told CNN. He was referring to the international organizations like NATO and the UN, which May also mentioned as being vital but in need of reform.
May said she was delighted that the Trump administration has made a trade agreement between the United States and the UK a priority.
“It will take detailed work, but we welcome your openness to these discussions and hope we can make progress so that the new global Britain that emerges after Brexit is even better equipped to take its place confidently in the world,” she said, referring to Britain’s exit from the European Union.
According to May, the UK is the fifth-leading importer of US goods and the US is the largest market for UK overseas investments.
She said she is hopeful a trade agreement could be reached in the upcoming months.
While Trump has expressed his openness to a new trade deal with the UK, he has indicated a desire to prioritize American jobs with his “America First” agenda.
May was to meet Trump at the Philadelphia retreat, then he will host her at the White House on Friday.