PM and President Obama remarks at White House arrival ceremony

PM: "Britain and America know that we can always count on each other."

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
The Rt Hon David Cameron

President Obama:

Good morning everyone.  The storied relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom is steeped in tradition.  And, last night as President, I shared with the Prime Minister a uniquely America tradition of bracketology.  March madness.  He has learnt to appreciate one of our great national pastimes.  His team has told me he has decided to install a hoop at 10 Downing Street.

Today we carry on another tradition: an official visit from one of our closest friends and our dearest allies.  Prime Minister Cameron, Mrs Cameron, members of the British delegation, on behalf of the American people, it is my great honour to welcome you to the United States.  

David, Samantha, on behalf of Michelle and myself, we welcome you to the White House.  And Samantha, just let me say that we are delighted that you’ve made America your first official foreign trip.  

It’s now two hundred years since the British came here, to the White House, under somewhat different circumstances.  They made quite an impression.  They really lit up the place.  But we moved on.  And today, like so many Presidents and Prime Ministers before us, we meet to reaffirm one of the greatest alliances the world has ever known.  This visit is also an opportunity to reciprocate the extraordinary and gracious hospitality shown to us by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, by David and Samantha, and by the British people, during our visit to London last year.  And we are proud that this visit comes as Her Majesty begins her Diamond Jubilee, celebrating 60 extraordinary years on the British throne.  

It is remarkable to consider down the decades we’ve seen nations rise and fall, wars fought and peace defended, a city divided, a wall come down, countries imprisoned behind an Iron Curtain then liberated.  We’ve seen the demise of a Cold War and the rise of new threats, the transition from an industrial revolution to an information age where new technologies empower our citizens and our adversaries like never before.  Our world has been transformed over and over, and it will be again.  Yet, through the grand sweep of history, through all its twists and turns, there is one constant: the rock solid alliance between the United States and the United Kingdom.  

The reason is simple.  We stand together and we work together, and we bleed together, and we build together, in goods times and in bad, because when we do our nations are more secure, our people are more prosperous, and the world is a safer, and better, and more just place.  Our alliance is essential.  It is indispensible to the security and prosperity that we seek, not only for our own citizens, but for people around the world.  And that is why as President I’ve made strengthening this alliance, and our alliances around the world, one of my highest foreign policy priorities.  And because we have, I can stand here today and say, with pride and with confidence, and I believe with David’s agreement, that the relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom is the strongest it has ever been.

And so in the sunlight of this beautiful morning, with children from both nations in attendance, we reaffirm the enduring values in which our alliance is forever rooted.  We believe that every person, if they are willing to work hard, if they play by the rules, deserves a fair shot, deserves a chance to succeed.  

So, in these tough economic times we stand united in our determination to create the jobs that put our people back to work, and in expanding trade that is both free and fair, and in fighting for a global economy in which every nation plays by the same rules.  We believe that our citizens should able to live free from fear.  So, like generations before us, we stand united in the defence of our countries and against those who would terrorise our people or endanger the globe with the world’s most dangerous weapons.

We believe in the universal rights of all people, so we stand united in our support for those who seek to choose their leaders and forge their future, including the brave citizens of the Middle East and North Africa who deserve the same God-given rights and freedoms as people everywhere.  And we believe in the inherent dignity of every human being.  So, we will stand united in advancing the developments that lift people and nations out of poverty: the new crops that feed a village; the care that saves a mother in childbirth; the vaccine that allows a child to live a long and healthy life.  This is what we believe.  This is who we are.  This is what we do together, what we achieve together, every single day.  And this is the alliance we renew today, guided by the interests we share, grounded in the values that we cherish not just in our time but for all time.  

And finally I would just note that while this is not the first official visit of my Presidency, it is one of the few where I have not had to pause for translation.  We Americans and Brits speak the same language most of the time.  So, let me just say David, we are chuffed to bits that you are here.  And I’m looking forward to a great natter.  I’m confident that together we are going to keep the relationship between our two great nations absolutely top notch.  David, Samantha, the warmest of welcomes from Michelle and myself, but more importantly from the American people.  We are honoured to have you here.

Prime Minister David Cameron:

President Obama, First Lady, Mr Vice President, members of both cabinets, guests of honour, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for such an incredibly warm welcome.  I have to say Barack, with that spectacular command of our shared language, with all these Union flags and with so many friends at home, you are really making me feel very at home here in Washington.  So, I am a little embarrassed as I stand here, to think that 200 years ago my ancestors tried to burn this place down.  Now, looking around me, I can see you’ve got the place a little better defended today.  You’re clearly not taking any risks with the Brits this time.  

And thank you also for the lessons last night.  I will leave America with some new words: alley-oops, brackets, fast breaks and who knows, maybe that hoop will be installed in Downing Street after all.  It was a great evening, thank you very much indeed.

Now of course, since that unfortunate episode 200 years ago, generations of British and American servicemen and women have fought together.  Our grandparents fought in the same campaign.  My grandfather, wounded a few days after D-Day, the greatest ever British and American operation in history.  And yours Barack, serving under General Patton as the Allies swept through France.  Whether it is defeating the Nazis, standing up to the Soviets, defending the Korean peninsula or hunting down Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, there can be no more tangible illustration of our two nations defending our values and advancing our interests than the mutual sacrifice made by our servicemen and women and let us once again, pay tribute to their valour, their courage, their professionalism and their dedication, here in Washington today.  

From the Balkans to Baghdad, across the world and across the decades, we have been proud to serve with you.  When the chips are down, Britain and America know that we can always count on each other because we are allies not just prepared to say the right thing, but to do the right thing, and to do it in the right way, promoting our values, standing up for our ideals.  

The partnership between our countries, between our peoples, is the most powerful partnership for progress that the world has ever seen.  That is why whenever an American President and a British Prime Minister get together, there is a serious and important agenda to work through and today is no different.  Afghanistan, Iran, the Arab Spring, the need for trade, for growth, for jobs in the world economy; the biggest issues in the word, that is our agenda today.  

But what makes our relationship so vigorous and so lasting is that it draws its strength from roots far deeper and broader than government or the military.  It is a meeting of kindred spirits.  When the world’s brightest minds want to generate the innovations that will make tomorrow more free and more fair, they look to our great universities like Harvard and Stanford, Cambridge and Oxford.  When the most audacious and entrepreneurial philanthropists like the Gates Foundation want not just to give out to charity, but to eliminate polio and other avoidable diseases so that no child in our world should die unnecessarily, they find partners across the Atlantic in the British aid agencies like Save the Children, Oxfam and Christian Aid.  And when a great innovator like Sir Tim Berners-Lee wanted a partner to make the World Wide Web a reality, he turned to America.  Why?  Because he knew that it was in America that he would find that same spirit of creativity, innovation and risk-taking that defines our unique approach to enterprise and to business.  He is not alone.  

In 2010, transatlantic partnerships produced eight of the nine Nobel prizes in science.  Foreign direct investment between Britain and America is the largest in the world and now stands at $900 billion.  This creates and sustains around a million jobs each side of the Atlantic and it provides a strong foundation for bilateral trade worth nearly $200 billion a year.  In fact, American investment in the UK, is eight times larger than China, and UK investment in America, is nearly 140 times that of China.  

So, yes, the world is changing at a faster rate than ever before and the ways we will influence events are changing with it but one thing remains unchanged: the ceaseless back and forth between our two nations through ideas, friendship, business and shared endeavour.  That is why I believe that we can be sure that in 50 years’ time an American President and a British Prime Minister will stand on this very spot just as we do now.  They will stand here, as we do, for freedom and for enterprise.  Our two countries: the united states of liberty and enterprise.  

That is why I am so pleased to be here today to celebrate an essential relationship that, as you say, has never been stronger and to work with you to make sure we deliver that, and to make our countries closer, and closer still.  Thank you.

Published 14 March 2012