Speech to CPAC 2024

Thank you so much, it’s fantastic to be here at CPAC, with so many true conservatives. And boy, are you needed now.

Because the reality is on the streets of our big cities we have people protesting in favour of terrorism, carrying placards and waving flags that are anti-semitic, even after the atrocities of October 7th in Israel.

We have our borders out of control, with illegal immigrants able to enter our countries freely.

We have a growing tax burden and a growing size of government, as well as some of the most bureaucratic states that we’ve ever seen.

And our energy bills are going up because of the Green New Deal or Net Zero, even though China is building coal-fired power stations at a record rate.

What I want to talk most of all about today is that the very basis of Western civilisation is being undermined.

The Anglo-American values that we hold dear, that were encapsulated in Magna Carta, in the Bill of Rights, in the American Constitution, are being questioned and undermined.

Our history is being challenged and even our biology is being challenged.

Can you imagine, ten years ago, that we’d be questioning what a woman is and what a man is, and having a serious argument about it? It’s incredible.

And yet on every issue that the left win, they push it to a greater extreme.

Meanwhile, we’ve seen President Biden asleep at the wheel in the White House.

In Britain, we are one of the few countries that still has a conservative government. But the left did not accept that they’d lost at the ballot box.

Instead, they’ve been weaponising our court system to stop us from deporting illegal immigrants.

They’ve been using the administrative state to make sure conservative policies are thwarted.

And they’re pushing their woke agenda, through our schools, through our campuses and even in our corporations.

I thought companies in the free market were meant to be about giving people jobs, giving people opportunities, making money, making profits, creating wealth for our country.

But no, we have a new kind of economics in the West, called “wokenomics”.

It’s actually about DEI and ESG and all those other three-letter acronyms that mean less opportunities for people and less future for our nation.

That’s what we are facing now, even in countries with conservative governments because of the power of the left and the power of those bureaucracies.

And the left are aided and abetted by our enemies overseas. That includes Russia, it includes Iran and most of all it includes China which stands behind all of them.

And what those people want to do is they don’t want to just compete with countries in the West, they don’t want economic competition, they want to undermine our very way of life.

They want to undermine our societies, and what they want to do is they want our societies to collapse from within, because we loathe ourselves, because we hate ourselves. That’s what they are trying to achieve.

And what’s happened is that these regimes have actually been enabled by us over the last few decades.

We let China into the World Trade Organisation and we’ve allowed them to undermine free markets with their unfair practices.

We’ve almost allowed Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. And we’ve enabled Vladimir Putin by not taking action early enough when he could be stopped. That is what has been going on.

Instead of projecting strength – and we know that dictators only respond to strength – we have projected weakness.

And that is what is being projected from the White House at the moment.

And I’m afraid there are too many conservatives who have gone along with some of these left-wing ideas. In Britain we call them CINOs (Conservatives In Name Only) and I think in America you call them RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) but it’s the same tendency.

It’s people who think ‘I want to be popular’, ‘I don’t want to upset people’, ‘I don’t want to look like a mean person’, ‘I want to attend nice dinner parties in London or Washington DC’. ‘I want my friends to like me’, ‘I don’t want to cause trouble’.

But what those people are doing is compromising, triangulating and losing the argument.

And I’ve got a message for them: you can’t triangulate with terrorists, you can’t compromise with communists, you have to fight for what you believe in.

You have to fight for the conservative values that you hold dear. And I am prepared to do that.

I will fight even if it’s not popular, even if people say they don’t like it, because I know it’s right.

Individual liberty, families and people making decisions, not the government. Freedom and free enterprise and capitalism.

And most of all the fact that our countries, the United Kingdom and the United States, are exceptional.

We are great nations. And I refuse to have our history talked down, and I refuse to have our values talked down.

We need to stand up for those values and we need to stand up for them every day.

I’m afraid, my friends, we are in difficult times and I very much fear that unless conservatives become more active in speaking out, unless we are prepared to fight this battle, even if it’s difficult, even if it’s uncomfortable, that Western civilisation is doomed.

I’ve written a book and it’s called Ten Years to Save the West. And I’ve written it based on my experiences as a minister in the UK government and ultimately as Prime Minister.

And it’s a warning to you in the United States and all of us across the free world.

Because I went into government and put myself forward to be leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister because I believed our country needed to be turned around.

I saw our growth wasn’t high enough, that we hadn’t sorted out immigration, I wanted to deal with those issues.

And I put forward a range of policies, and those policies got support from our party members, from our base.

And the policies were cutting taxes, cutting the size of government and reining in the administrative state.

Making sure our borders were secure and we were deporting illegal immigrants.

Making sure that people could start a family, by building more houses and having cheaper energy.

I wanted us to get fracking. You know that fracking has lowered energy bills here and made America less dependent on foreign powers. And that’s what I wanted to do in the UK.

What I also wanted to do was get all the EU laws off our statute book.

You may think that we voted for Brexit back in 2016, but you’ll be surprised to hear that the vast majority of those EU laws are still on our statute book.

It’s a bit like getting divorced and still living in the same house as your ex-husband.

I don’t believe that EU regulations were going to drive the British economy, so I wanted to get rid of them.

So these were the policies that I put forward and I believe that if all of those policies had been implemented, Britain would be stronger and we’d be in a better position now.

I’m not saying I’m a perfect person or that I did everything exactly right, but I faced the most almighty backlash to those conservative policies that I tried to put in place: from the usual suspects in the media and in the corporate world, but also from people that were meant to work for the government: the Office of Budget Responsibility, the Bank of England, these organisations sought to undermine the policies.

Even the IMF intervened. And even President Biden intervened to have a go at my policies. Can you imagine being attacked on your economic policies by the inventor of Bidenomics? Talk about offensive.

But the reality is, with that level of antagonism, I simply was not able to implement those policies which I believe and Conservative party members believe would have developed for our country.

And frankly I didn’t have enough support from Conservative MPs as well to be able to do that.

So these are the lessons I’ve learnt: it’s not enough to just have the right policies. It’s not even enough to get the position of power that you need to deliver those policies, because conservatives are now operating in a hostile environment.

We essentially need a bigger bazooka in order to be able to deliver. And I think we have got to challenge the institutions themselves.

We’ve got to challenge the system itself and be prepared to take that on as conservatives.

I think we need to draw inspiration from popular democracy movements: the Founding Fathers, the Chartists, those people who wanted to make sure the will of the people was delivered in their country.

And we have to understand how deep the vested interests of the establishment are, how hard they will fight and how unfairly they will fight in order to get their way.

And that is what I learnt from my time as a government minister and my time in No. 10.

So let me tell you about the US situation. Of course, we need a Republican back in the White House, we need it desperately.

And by the way, it’s not just America that needs it desperately, we need it desperately right across the Free World.

Because you are the leaders of the Free World, like it or not.

And of course, we need Republicans in the Senate and in the House of Representatives.

But we need Republicans who are prepared to fight. We need Republicans who aren’t going to cave in to the establishment. We need Republicans who are prepared to take on this difficult task even if it’s unpopular, even if they’re criticised, even if they don’t get invited to any dinner parties.

Because that is the way that we will ensure Republicans are in power as well as being in office.

And it’s ultimately conservatives being in power that will save the West. We will not save the West without that.

So my friends, it’s fantastic to be here and get the fresh injection of conservative energy. We need it, we need it very much in Europe, and we need it very much in the United Kingdom.

And let me tell you: we have ten years to save the West. Let’s get to it now. Thank you.

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Launching 16th April 2024


In Ten Years to Save the West, Truss, who as Prime Minister sought to champion limited government and individual freedom, will argue that the rise of authoritarianism around the world and the adoption of fashionable ideas propagated by the global left give us barely a decade to preserve the economic and cultural freedom and institutions that the West holds so dear.