Theresa May United Nations Speech: Empty threats to an empty room

Only one familiar face stared back at the Prime Minister as she addressed the home of world peace - the chap with whom she is fighting a civil war 

Tom Peck
Political Sketch Writer
Wednesday 20 September 2017 22:29 BST
Theresa May gives speech at UN assembly

That a speech to an audience of world leaders in the grand hall of the United Nations should be considered no more than a warm up for a speech to a room full of British journalists forced to easyjet their way to Tuscany for reasons inexplicable is an unusual thing.

But, to their credit, the scores of world leaders in attendance at the United Nations General Assembly did their bit to prevent this particular Theresa May speech from overshadowing the one that will come in Florence on Friday, and they did that bit by not turning up.

On Tuesday, Donald Trump’s threats to "totally obliterate North Korea" were frankly ruined by no one from the North Korean delegation being in the hall for the cameras to cut away to.

Theresa May, on the other hand, as she addressed this venerable body set up to promote world peace, must have thought herself unlucky that the only face of note in the vanishingly small crowd belonged to the very flaxen-haired orang-utan with whom she is having to pretend she is not currently in open civil war with.

The Prime Minister’s themes on these global occasions are now well established. Six years in the Home Office will do that to you. Modern slavery, of course. The threat of terror. Her latest ruse is to demand that giant technology companies remove extremist material within two hours of it being posted. Industry experts suggest the sheer volume of material required to sift through will make such expectations impossible to fulfil. Boris Johnson’s 4,000 word Telegraph article, for example, is still online six days later.

For those scouring this speech of what might come in Florence, the clues were there. The Prime Minister got on a plane to a foreign place, then stood up to tell it how terrible it was, and no one is expecting anything other than that to happen on Friday.

The UN, apparently needs reforming. Its purpose is noble but its delivery has failed. She also revealed she wouldn’t be handing over millions of pounds unless the UN could prove it wouldn’t be misspent.

Trump: US will 'totally destroy' North Korea 'if forced to'

She’s had a busy week, the Prime Minister, what with the literal bomb on the underground and the political one on the front of the Telegraph. It is tempting to wonder whether she’d just run out of time to write two speeches.

The sad thing, of course, is that nobody will have noticed. British Prime Ministers and the British people have struggled for decades with trying to understand the place of a declining country in an improving world.

But by issuing empty threats to an empty room, it’s possible Theresa May has finally helped us find our place.

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