Speeches, etc.

Margaret Thatcher

Speech replying to President Reagan’s address at the Guildhall

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: Guildhall, City of London
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Editorial comments: Late morning.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 630
Themes: Civil liberties, Defence (arms control), Foreign policy (USA), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states)

Prime Minister

My Lord Mayor, Mr. President, Your Excellencies, My Lords, Aldermen, Sheriffs, Ladies and Gentlemen:

We have been privileged, Mr. President, to hear you deliver this first report of your historic summit meeting with General Secretary Gorbachev in Moscow. It is both an honour for us and fitting that you choose to do so here in London in this ancient Guildhall, an honour for us because of our friendship with the United States of America—a friendship which is indissoluble—and fitting because this City of London and all that it stands for are part of your heritage as well as ours.

We warmly congratulate you and General-Secretary Gorbachev on a very successful summit, one which will influence the course of history for years to come. It is the result of months—indeed years—of hard work by you, by Secretary Shultz and countless others and we would like to say thank you to Mrs. Reagan too for the splendid support which she always gives.

The summit has brought us closer to the more stable and peaceful relations between East and West that we all want to see. Indeed, I believe there is now more hope between East and West than ever before in the lifetime of most of us here.

It was so characteristic of you, Mr. President, not to flinch from taking the fight for fundamental human rights to the very heart of the Soviet Union. Your words in Moscow will have have shone like a beacon of hope for all those, wherever they are, who are denied their basic freedoms, but as I listened to you, Mr. President, I could not help thinking of your achievements as President—achievements over nearly eight years—which have made possible this summit and so much else besides.

Your leadership has made America strong and confident again and we in Britain should like to say thank you for being such a staunch and loyal ally to this country and to Europe.

I recall what Winston Churchill once 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.”

You, Mr. President, have successfully negotiated the first reductions in nuclear weapons. You have changed attitudes and perceptions about what is possible—the most difficult thing of all in politics—and you have done it not by bowing to the wishes and whims of others, but by standing firm in your own beliefs, as we heard once again today. It is as if you had said at the beginning of your life in politics: “This I believe! This I act upon! This I will always believe! This I will always act upon!” —and thank goodness you have!

From that strong fortress of conviction, you set out to enlarge freedom the world over. Your personal courage, your gentle humour and your spirit of optimism are all part of the special quality which you have brought to the presidency. Above all—and in this you have done the greatest possible [end p1] service not only to your own people but to free people everywhere—you have restored faith in the American dream, a dream of boundless opportunity built on enterprise, individual effort and personal generosity. When we compare the mood of confidence and optimism in the West today with the mood when you took office in 1980, we know that a greater change has taken place than ever we could have imagined.

Mr. President, you spoke of seeking a newer world. You are doing so with all the qualities of which Tennyson spoke in that verse— “strong in will, to strive, to seek, to find and not to yield.”

My Lord Mayor, I believe everyone present in this Guildhall will join me in saying: “Thank you, Mr. President! Thank you for the summit, thank you for your presidency, thank you for your testament of belief and God Bless America!” (applause) (END OF TRANSCRIPT) NNNN