May uses UN speech to reprimand Trump on climate change

Theresa May has used her key note speech at the UN to reprimand the US President Donald Trump over his demands to renegotiate the international Paris climate change agreement,
Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Boris JohnsonTheresa May and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson
Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson

In a thinly veiled criticism of the American leader, Mrs May urged all members states to “come together and defend” their system of shared values and commitments, including on security and the environment.

The comments mark a stepchange for the Prime Minister, who has repeatedly been accused of failing to take a tough enough line with Mr Trump and of being too eager to appease her US counterpart.

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She also used the address to single out Syria and North Korea for their “deliberate flouting” of international rules, while condemning Russia and China for undermining efforts to coordinate a strong multilateral response.

The speech to the UN general assembly in New York comes during a fraught week for the Prime Minister. The last few days have been dominated by speculation over the future of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson following the publication of a 4,000 article on Brexit at the weekend.

The pair are due to share a flight home overnight ahead of a special meeting of the Cabinet tomorrow, where ministers will discuss Mrs May’s next big speech in Florence. The Conservative leader is under growing pressure to use Friday’s intervention to set out a vision for Brexit that will placate the feuding factions within the party.

A key theme in tonight’s speech was the need for greater international cooperation to combat the threat of terrorism.

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Citing this year’s attacks in London and Manchester, she called on member states to step up efforts to tackle extremists’ use of the internet, and to block access to ideologies which “preach hatred, sow division and undermine our common humanity”.

“When terrorists struck London and Manchester this year, the world saw our cities come together in defiance,” she said. “But defiance alone is not enough. In the last decade hundreds of thousands have been killed by terrorists across the world. This is a truly global tragedy that is increasingly touching the lives of us all.”

Mrs May went on to condemn the “unforgiveable” use of chemical weapons by Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria and the “outrageous” development of nuclear weapons by North Korea. In a clear rebuke of Russia’s response to the crisis in Syria, she hit out at “one country in particular” that has repeatedly used vetoes to “prevent action against a despicable regime”.

And without mentioning Mr Trump or the US by name, she made clear her disapproval of the President’s calls for the Paris climate agrement to be rewritten as she urged countries to stick by their international commitments. “I believe that the only way for us to respond to this vast array of challenges is to come together and defend the international order that we have worked so hard to create and the values by which we stand,” she said.