The last few weeks have demonstrated that Britain continues to be a highly influential and powerful player on the world stage, despite Brexit. Theresa May represented us at her first UN Summit as Prime Minister, alongside Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and International Development Secretary Priti Patel.
They represented us as the global Britain that has massively contributed to the world and still has our best days ahead of us as a leader on many worldwide issues.
The Prime Minister gave an excellent maiden speech to the UN General Assembly during which she spoke about Brexit, climate change, global terrorism, migration and the importance of tackling modern slavery. Her impressive performance demonstrated to leaders across the world that we are always willing to discuss and tackle the tough issues facing us all.
She was absolutely right that we did not vote to turn inwards when we backed Brexit during the EU referendum. We will not walk away from our partners around the globe. In fact, a post-Brexit Britain will be more global than ever before because we will not be constrained to one geographical part of the planet.
Now more than ever before, it is vital, as she pointed out, that we work together to tackle "the big security and human rights challenges of our time". One of these issues is modern slavery. This is an issue Theresa May has led the way in tackling, alongside others such as my own local MP Karen Bradley when she was a Home Office Minister before her promotion to the Cabinet. They led the UK’s Modern Slavery Act 2015 through Parliament, and we were the first country in world to introduce such a landmark piece of legislation. It ensures that this important issue gets far more political attention, and makes sure criminals are brought to justice for these horrific, yet often overlooked, crimes.
Theresa May also highlighted the "increasing pace of globalisation" and the rapid economic and demographic changes we have experienced as a result of this process. In this country, we have realised that continuous uncontrolled migration is unsustainable and puts huge pressure on our society and public services. Due to the welcome rise of the increasingly powerful anti-establishment feeling across western democracies, world leaders are finally beginning to wake up to the fact that this issue can no longer be ignored. This means, as Theresa May rightly said:
“We must never forget that we stand here, at this United Nations, as servants of the men and women that we represent back at home. And as we do so we must recognise that for too many of those men and women the increasing pace of globalisation has left them feeling left behind.”
The biggest threats to our prosperity and security quite clearly do not recognise or respect international borders. As one newspaper commentator put it:
"A nation without its own borders is not a nation. A nation which does not make its own laws is not a nation. A nation which cannot fish its waters as it wants is not a nation. A nation which has handed over its very passport is not a nation. These things matter. The man in the street wants his passport back."
I am pleased the PM reminded the UN that, as the second largest bi-lateral provider of assistance for refugees, the UK remains fully committed to playing a leading role in helping these highly vulnerable people. But, in addition to refugees, we also seeing an unprecedented movement of economic migrants through the same unmanaged channels. More migrants have died attempting hazardous journeys across borders this year than any other. As she said, we need to have an honest global debate to address this global challenge.
Undoubtedly, there is nothing wrong with the desire to migrate to create a better life for yourself and your family and controlled, legal, safe, economic migration can bring benefits to this country and countries across the world. But the huge surge in numbers over such a short period of time means that local communities cannot adapt fast enough to cope with the change in environment this brings.
One other aspect of the speech which impressed me was her commitment to Britain continuing to play an active part in the international effort against climate change. If we are to demonstrate our commitment to the agreement reached in Paris at the end of last year, we must ensure our domestic procedures can now enable the ratification of the Paris agreement at the earliest opportunity. Actions, and not just words, are needed on this issue. I am confident that our country will deliver and play our part in protecting the planet for future generations.
Her speech and our great presence at the United Nations sessions showed the world that Britain will remain an "outward-facing, global partner at the heart of international efforts to secure peace and prosperity for all our people."
Let’s all now embrace Brexit and become an even greater global leader on the big issues.
Joe Porter is a Parish Councillor in Staffordshire Moorlands and Deputy Chairman (Political) for West Midlands Conservative Future. He was the President of Keele Students for Britain and the Vote Leave Constituency Campaign Coordinator for Staffordshire Moorlands. Joe studies Marketing and Politics at Keele University, and is a Trustee of Keele Student Union.