British PM Theresa May.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – British Prime Minister Theresa May embraced the Republican Party on Thursday in a speech to its lawmakers in Philadelphia, characterizing herself as a fellow conservative keen on renewing Western leadership around the world.
Addressing a GOP retreat one day before meeting with US President Donald Trump at the White House, May said that America must continue to fulfill its promise “of freedom, liberty and the rights of man.”
While acknowledging the political upheaval that rocked both of their nations last year – Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, and America’s election of Trump – as a “period of change” for the West, May cast that change as an opportunity to renew a special relationship that, in her words, first forged the modern world.
“A newly emboldened, confident America is good for the world,” May said. “An America that is strong and prosperous at home is a nation that can lead abroad. But you cannot – and should not – do so alone. You have said that it is time for others to step up, and I agree.”
In that pursuit, the US and UK must redouble its fight against “closed, coercive and cruel” political forces, such as the Russian government and terrorist organizations such as Islamic State, May said.
“And whether it is the security of Israel in the Middle East or Estonia in the Baltic states, we must always stand up for our friends and allies in democratic countries that find themselves in tough neighborhoods, too,” she added.
Britain unilaterally stopped the European Union from adopting terms agreed upon in Paris earlier this month for a peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. London also sent a low-level conference to the event. Both moves were considered nods to Trump, who opposed the French summit.
May also offered tough language on Iran and the nuclear deal it reached with world powers in 2015. Britain was party to those negotiations, which resulted in a deal roundly opposed by Republican lawmakers.
“The nuclear deal with Iran was controversial,” she said. “But it has neutralized the possibility of the Iranians acquiring nuclear weapons for more than a decade. It has seen Iran remove 13,000 centrifuges together with associated infrastructure and eliminate its stock of 20% enriched uranium. That was vitally important for regional security.
“The agreement must now be very carefully and rigorously policed – and any breaches should be dealt with firmly and immediately,” she said, also vowing to fight against Iran’s “aggressive efforts to build an arc of influence from Tehran through to the Mediterranean.”