London, United Kingdom
7:28 P.M. BST
VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: To Secretary of State Elizabeth Truss, to Lord Mayor Peter Estlin, Ambassador Johnson, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen: It is a profound honor for my wife Karen and me to join you here in the great hall of Guildhall for this second annual International Trade Dinner. Thank you for the honor. (Applause.)
And as I begin, allow me to bring greetings from a friend of mine and a businessman who’s become a great champion of the special relationship between the United States and Kingdom — and the United Kingdom. Allow me to bring greetings and the warmest regards from the President of the United States, President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
And before I go any further, allow me to also recognize another great American patriot who I promise you, and I expect you’ve seen firsthand, is working every day to strengthen the ties that bind the United Kingdom and the United States. Join me in thanking United States Ambassador to the Court of St. James, Ambassador Woody Johnson. (Applause.)
As many of you may know, this is my first visit to the United Kingdom as Vice President of the United States. And as I stand before you tonight, it’s deeply humbling to think back on all the great events in the history of English-speaking peoples that occurred in this hallowed spot, some of which have been spoken of here tonight.
But for nearly two millennia, the citizens of London have braved “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” have been citizens of no ordinary city, and have demonstrated again and again the strength that has caused them to grow “in the esteem of freedom-loving people the world over.” You are admired for your resilience, your fortitude, and you are rightly known for your “stiff upper lip.” (Laughter.) And you have my respect. (Applause.)
But perhaps the greatest symbol of the British spirit lies in this very hall. It’s the image of the phoenix emblazoned on the shield of Magog, one of the ancient guardians of the city, I’m told. That shield was erected in the years just after the London blitz, when, out of the ashes of a terrible war, the city was reborn and rose to new heights of prosperity and prestige.
And so as I stand here tonight, I can’t help but think of that phoenix and of all of the hidden potential that it still represents, because we honestly believe that the United Kingdom is on the verge of what your new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, called a new golden age — a new era in which our two nations will stand side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder, and we will show the world how free and fair trade can promote prosperity and peace across the globe. (Applause.)
Earlier today, it was my great honor to meet with Prime Minister Johnson at 10 Downing Street. I offered the President’s regards and I assured him that the United States of America supports the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union. I told him President Trump also asked me to convey that the United States of America is ready, willing, and able to do a free trade agreement with the UK immediately upon the completion of Brexit. (Applause.)
I mentioned to him the fact that President Trump often likes to cite that the United States is the biggest economy in the world. And under the President’s leadership, it’s only gotten bigger.
I’m proud to report to you that the American economy is booming. From the earliest days of our administration, this President rolled up his sleeve and went to work to keep the promises we made to the American people. We cut taxes across the board for working families and businesses large and small. We rolled back regulations at a historic pace. We unleashed American energy, and the results have been remarkable.
Since Election Day 2016, I’m proud to report that American businesses large and small have created more than 6 million new jobs. Unemployment in our country has hit a nearly 50-year low, our stock market is soaring, and wages are rising at the fastest pace in more than a decade.
We’ve also worked to open up markets around the world to American products: Argentina to American pork, Vietnam to American corn and wheat, and the European Union to American beef.
And since we took office, the President has pursued an ambitious trade agenda built on the principles of free and fair and reciprocal trade. We made a new trade deal with South Korea. We reached an agreement in principle with Japan for a free trade agreement. We’ve put China on notice. We ended the era of economic surrender by using the power of the United States economy. And this morning, we announced that negotiations on a new trade deal with China will resume in October.
We also have begun negotiations with the European Union on a possible new trade deal. And President Trump has already signed the largest trade deal in American history: the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement, which awaits congressional approval.
But as I told Prime Minister Johnson today, we believe a free trade agreement between the United States and the United Kingdom could increase trade between our two countries three or four times. And we’re already going to work on that free trade agreement. When you’re ready, we’ll be ready.
In fact, the President told me today to tell Prime Minister Johnson that when Brexit is complete, we will begin negotiations on a free trade agreement right away. Our message is clear: The minute the UK is out, America is in. (Applause.)
When I told him that, your Prime Minister said, “Fantastic.” And he renewed his pledge to drive a free trade agreement forward, and we’ll be ready. He actually described the proposal, in his words, as a “wonderful, massive opportunity for UK folks.” And we believe it’s a wonderful, massive opportunity for people on both sides of the Atlantic.
With the cameras in the room and after he left, the Prime Minister made the point that some things are off the table, although I can see right now we’re going to have some pretty tough discussions over chlorinated chicken. (Laughter.)
But all kidding aside, let me be clear: The United States stands without apology for a strong, prosperous, and free United Kingdom. We always have.
It was George Bernard Shaw’s mischievous claim that, and I quote, “England and America are two countries divided by a common language.” And there’s been some truth to that. But the reality is, our two peoples have shared a special relationship since the settlers of Jamestown stepped onto the shore of Virginia now more than 400 years ago.
After the conflicts of the 18th and early 19th century, the 20th century dawned with the great fusion of English-speaking people. The bonds of a shared language, a shared history, a shared vision of the future proved far stronger than any differences we had in the past.
And, ultimately, it was based on what draws our two countries together. What unites us in an almost brotherly affection is our two peoples’ common and heartfelt love of freedom.
As I joined the leaders of more than 40 nations in Warsaw on Saturday to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II, I couldn’t help but reflect on the times, over the course of the last century, when the shadow of tyranny fell over Europe and our nations’ finest locked arms to defend the God-given liberties that make our partnership the envy of the world.
Together, we stormed the beaches of Normandy to free Europe from Nazi Germany. Together, we stared down the Soviet Union and liberated millions trapped behind the Iron Curtain. And together, for more than 70 years, Old Glory and the Union Jack have flown high and proud in the defense of freedom. And they fly together today.
Ever since our two countries signed the Atlantic Charter in 1941, our nations’ leaders have worked side-by-side to confront any and all threats to our way of life. In fact, they’ve worked so closely together that they’ve often become good friends. Before President Trump and Prime Minister Johnson, there were Reagan and Thatcher, Kennedy and MacMillan, and, of course, Roosevelt and Churchill.
You know, there’s an old story that I think captures very well how close our two nations have become over the years. It was during the darkest days of World War II — just after the bombing of Pearl Harbor — when Winston Churchill was staying at the White House. One morning, eager to hear Churchill’s reaction to a new idea, President Roosevelt wheeled himself into the great man’s room only — only as he would later record — only to find the PM, quote, “stark naked and gleaming pink from his bath.” (Laughter.)
Immediately, the President begged his pardon, but Churchill apparently shrugged him off. “No, no,” that lion-hearted man said, adding, “the Prime Minister of Great Britain has nothing to hide from the President of the United States.” (Laughter and applause.)
Beyond that memorable candor, the truth is there’s a bond that’s always existed between our nations’ leaders. Perhaps our special relationship finds its greatest expression in the bustling commerce that you’ve already heard about so eloquently tonight — the commerce between our two peoples and the connections between businesses large and small, and families in both our nations.
It’s amazing to think that last year alone, the two-way trade between our countries totaled more than $260 billion, and two-way investment more than a trillion dollars, between the U.S. and the UK.
We’re not only a top supplier of goods to the United Kingdom; we are each other’s largest supplier of services, as well as each other’s largest source of foreign direct investment.
More than a million Brits get up every morning and go to work at American-owned firms. And more than a million Americans get up and go to work in British-owned counterparts in the States. In fact, there are good-paying jobs tied to UK investment in all 50 states in the United States. And because of President Trump’s leadership in our economy, we’re hiring more people every day.
In fact, even without a new trade deal, the United Kingdom’s trade with the United States is growing faster than its trade with the European Union. Our two economies are so closely integrated, so deeply intertwined, that our destinies are inextricably linked, as well. And so, whatever disagreements that occasionally arise between us, whatever the differences in outlook and perspective, the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom will never be broken. (Applause.) We know that we rise together; we grow together.
And so, you can imagine, it was with great interest that the American people witnessed the historic election that took place in the United Kingdom a little more than three years ago. In June of 2016, the British people showed their independent spirit when they voted to leave the European Union. And more than a few people observed the parallels between your election and our own that would follow later in the year.
In fact, President Trump said, back then, that the British people, in his words, “took their country back,” just like we’re going to take America back.
And since that time, there have been some who have cast doubt on the British people’s decision, saying it represented a turning inward, a cutting off from the rest of the world, a diminishment of the country’s prestige. But not America. We continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of the United Kingdom and we will always will.
The truth is, a people who created the greatest empire in history, who alone held off the Nazi menace for more than a year; a people who have contributed more to the progress and civilization of mankind than almost any other need no lectures from anyone on how to conduct themselves in this critical hour of your history. (Applause.) That’s our view.
Now, we know a trade deal with the United States isn’t the sum of your ambitions, it’s only the beginning. I believe if we’re to ensure that the 21st century witnesses a renaissance of commerce between freedom-loving countries, it’ll be the United States and the United Kingdom that lead the way.
Only by opening our markets to each other will we be able to inspire other countries to open their markets to our people. Only by raising the standards of our bilateral trade can we hope to raise the standards of international commerce. And only by working together hand-in-hand, will we claim this new era of peace and prosperity that the hardworking people of our countries so richly deserve.
But it will all be born of the unity between our people forged in the fires of the 20th century, steeped in deep tradition and history, and probably best encapsulated in a speech that was given before our United States Congress by Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
He spoke words that I actually first read when I was standing in line to go into a memorial service a few days after September 11th, 2001. We were waiting in line to take our place in a pew to pray together as a nation, to mourn together as a nation. And the United Kingdom was there with us, not just to mourn but to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with us to confront and defeat those who did us harm.
But the words spoke of our two nations’ special relationship, and I close with them tonight. Winston Churchill said to our Congress, “[H]e must indeed have a blind soul who cannot see that some great purpose and design is being worked out here below of which we have the honor to be…faithful servants.” He went on to say, “It is not given to us to peer into the mysteries of the future. Still, I avow my hope and faith…[and] in the days to come the British and American peoples will, for their own safety and for the good of all, walk together in majesty, in justice and in peace.”
Ladies and gentlemen, I stand before you today grateful that that special relationship exists and grateful to say that the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom has never been stronger.
And with the leadership of President Donald Trump and the leadership of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, with the support of our two great peoples of these two great nations, and with God’s help, I believe with all my heart that the people of the United States and the people of the United Kingdom will walk proudly together and lead the world to prosperity and peace in the 21st century, in majesty and justice and peace. (Applause.)
So God bless you. God bless the United Kingdom. And God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
7:48 P.M BST