Ronald ReaganMr. President—or in this informal gathering—Ron and Nancy, friends.
This is a very special evening for us and a great honour to have you and Nancy with us at No. 10 Downing Street on your way home from a very successful Summit.
This house has seen so much history within its walls and tonight you are part of that [end p1] history.
Downstairs in the Cabinet Room where we met just now, Lord North took the fateful decisions which lost us the American colonies.
I remember how we agreed at Williamsburg in 1983 that, had it not been for that quirk of history, I might have been hosting the [end p2] Economic Summit rather than you.
It was from here that Winston Churchill directed our war effort and forged the great Alliance with the United States.
And from here, more recently, that we led the Falklands campaign for which we received such unstinting help and support from the United States. [end p3]
We are only a small gathering this evening, at your request; a group of friends and colleagues who have worked very closely together over the years under your leadership.
But it has always been a small core of dedicated people right at the heart of the Western world and the Anglo-American alliance who have held it together. [end p4]
You will remember what Winston Churchill wrote:
“Where we are able to stand together and work together for righteous causes, we shall always be thankful, and the world will always be free.”
Well, we have been proud to stand together and work together under your leadership, Mr. President, both those of us present [end p5] tonight and some who are not here such as Cap Weinberger, whose work and loyal friendship was marked by The Queen with one of our highest honours recently.
These last eight years have been a remarkable period in the West's history thanks to your lead.
You have made America strong again in defence. [end p6]
You have achieved the longest peace-time economic expansion in America's history, with 66 months of continuous growth and 16 million new jobs created.
You have carried through a sweeping reform of America's tax system to encourage and reward enterprise—and in doing so have set a great example for the rest of us. [end p7]
Yours has been the strongest voice raised for liberty, above all in your historic speech to Parliament in 1981 when you called for a campaign for democracy and a crusade for freedom.
You have ensured that liberty is defended and wherever and whenever it is threatened: and by standing up to the Soviet Union, [end p8] you have brought them to negotiations without sacrificing any of our principles or weakening our defence.
Above all—and in this you have done the greatest possible service not only to your own people but to free people everywhere—you have restored faith in the American dream. We also honour Nancy ReaganNancy's remarkable [end p9] achievements particularly in the war against drugs. Your one simple phrase spoken to children in a class-room— “just say no” —has become the symbol of determination to resist and stamp out drug abuse. Those few words helped change the way that people think and act the world over.
We thank you, Nancy, from the bottom of our [end p10] hearts.
Above all we think of the fantastic courage and optimism which you both show. We shall never forget the way you quoted Winston Churchill after the attempt on your life in 1981: “there is no more exhilirating feeling than being shot at without result” . [end p11]
Of course you have been wounded by the way the press have behaved and some the things written by those who should know better: who would not be? We and all your friends have shared your hurt.
But you must be sustained by knowing that in the hearts of millions of people admiration respect and affection for you [end p12] burns as bright and strong as ever. Your record stands proudly with those of the greatest of America's Presidents.
And so it is that we say to you—Ron and Nancy—and to your colleagues here tonight, thank you for what you have done for us and for the whole free world, God Bless you, and God Bless America.