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tv   Former British Foreign Sec. Boris Johnson at AEI  CSPAN  September 17, 2018 12:45am-1:42am EDT

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kristol award. mr. johnson, a member of the u.k. conservative party, resigned as foreign secretary in july. this is just under one hour. [applause] >> good evening, ladies and gentlemen. please take your seats. good evening, ladies and gentlemen. i'm arthur brooks, president of the american enterprise institute. welcome to the 2018 dinner of the irving kristol award. we're here tonight in this beautiful setting to celebrate a t the national building museum, a community we have built together. aei is a community of scholars 250 and staff and 1600 supporters. we were founded in 1938, 80 years ago this year. this is our 40th annual dinner. amazing. some of you have been to most of
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them. [laughter] my first aei annual dinner was in 2007. i was professor at syracuse university, and i was invited, as a visiting scholar, to attend this wonderful event. and my wife and i came down from syracuse. like country mice. we looked at this crowd and we said, these are people we only ever see on tv. and we were watching the speaker with binoculars. [laughter] mr. brooks: which gives you an idea of what table i got. and esther turned to me and said, can you imagine hosting this dinner? and i said, no chance. america is such a great country. within a year, i was president of the american enterprise institute. you never know what life has in store for you.
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this is my 10th year as host of this event, and it's also my last. as many of you know, a few months ago i announced this is the last year of my presidency of aei. over the past 10 years, i given over 1000 public speeches, in service of our mission traveling all over this great country, talking about dignity and human potential, and gathering support for the magnificent work of aei scholars. who are, just like you, dedicated to principles of a free government and free society and the believe that america's values are a gift to the world. what a privilege it's been. when i first began this job, i was extremely nervous about speaking in public. i hadn't done it that much. it was something i needed to get better at. somebody give me a piece of advice. they told me to read a book, not a lofty piece of literature that our scholars produced, but rather a book on
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self-improvement. it's a famous book by dale carnegie, how to win friends and influence people. and in that book, dale carnegie brilliantly traveled all over the united states and asked the most successful people the secrets to their success. in the book, when he's talking to a great magician at the time in the 1920's, howard thurston, he asked, what is the secret to your performance? you are the greatest performer of your generation, and howard thurston, the magician, said -- simple, gratitude. he said, every night before i go out on stage i recite his little meditation. "i am grateful because these people came to see me. they make it possible for me to make my living in a very agreeable way. i'm going to give them the very best i possibly can." and then right before he steps on the stage he says, "i love my audience."
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i love my audience. that gave me a lot of help early on in this job. because gratitude and practice really are the secret to good performance. but i was thinking about that earlier today and it occurred to me as i step on stage tonight and gave that same meditation of gratitude and love, it's not just to calm my nerves. it's a sincere expression of my gratitude and love. i want to take a couple of minutes, and tell you why i have so much gratitude toward you. to begin with, here tonight among this group are my true intellectual heroes. and some of my closest friends. as a graduate student many years ago, i remember reading the works of great aei scholars leon , michaelk everstadt
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novak. and i thought to myself, i will never meet these people. but they helped me to understand that my views about individual liberty and american strength, they're not weird. and i can be an intelligent, cultured, sophisticated person, and maybe even a professional intellectual and hold these views. i'm so grateful for that. nothing gives me greater satisfaction than to support the work of the scholars and staff of aei. and in particular, i want to mention one. i want to mention the scholar that has had more influence on my thinking than any other single individual. and that's charles murray. [applause] charles murray retired from full-time service at aei this year. you wouldn't know it based on his productivity.
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you can't tell when charles murray's retired. charles murray is someone i started reading many, many years ago. when i read his work, i thought, if i could use data and social science like that to try to express things that are going on in human life, then i would be successful. and when i finally came to aei, i was president and i called charles and said, can we have lunch? he said, you're the president of aei. [laughter] and we got together and i realized he's not just a great scholar, he's a great friend. he was going to be, and indeed he has become a role model for me in so many ways. what a gift it's been to be a small part in his extraordinary career. my life has been enriched by my friendship with people in this room, like the cochairman of
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aei's extraordinary board, and so many other members of this community. these people have not only supported me as i've been the head of this organization, they have patiently taught me about leadership. if things have gone well at aei, it's because of them. the second source of my gratitude was probably more obvious than that. as you know, as you should know, this institution doesn't just run on good feelings. although we have them. we spend about $50 million a year to build our ideal agenda and communicate it to millions of people around the world. we actually have the most inefficient business model in america. we're in the business of losing $50 million a year in intellectual property. and you make that possible. it's incredible. we combine your financial resources with the intellectual resources of our staff to
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produce the expression of our shared values on behalf of the people on the periphery of society. but here's the greatest source of my gratitude, as i finish tonight. at aei, we have a subversive mission that you support. from the earliest days, aei's model was a competition of ideas is fundamental to a free society. think about that, the competition of ideas, not agreements on one thing, but to compete freely. why? because competition brings excellence. monopoly brings stagnation and mediocrity. it's true in the economy, electoral politics, and ideas. to get true excellence, we need to disagree and disagree freely with civility and respect, and even love for each other. that's what we stand for, no party lines. [applause]
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we have a crisis in country today of too many people in public life not dedicated to the competition of ideas, but rather, too many people intent on shutting down that competition with insults, and intimidation, and even contempt. but itads to mediocrity, is also morally disordered. every single person in this room loves someone with whom they disagree politically. in our culture of contempt, when strangers on your side politically urge you to say that your loved ones are stupid and evil, we have a major problem. i am most grateful to be a member of a community that rejects the culture of contempt. we are countercultural. and that's fine. we simply do our work and we
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remember our mission principles. let me remind you of these mission principles. that we are brothers and sisters, human dignity is radically equal for all of us. and all circumstances, in all stages of life, every place in the world. [applause] that progress, progress, we're progressives. progress is always possible by unleashing the greatest source of energy in history, which is human potential. and it's the american free enterprise system that has pulled billions of our brothers and sisters out of poverty and in our lifetimes. the most potent system ever discovered to instantiate the human potential. [applause]
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and america's international leadership, economic, cultural, diplomatic, and military, that has set people free around the world to live up to their highest potential. and with our hard work and with our prayers, america will always do so. [applause] let's sum up what we're all about at aei. we want america to live up to its promise of a country of ambitious riffraff, pursuing happiness, building something good and meaningful, earning our success, sharing our values, and serving each other. these are the principles that are written in the hearts of the people in this room and instantiated every day by the scholars and staff and supporters and trustees and friends of the american
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enterprise institute. but what fills me with gratitude the most is having been given the gift of leading not just this organization, but indeed this movement for the past 20 past 10 years. god bless you and thank you so very much. [applause] thank you. and now it's on to our program. and a wonderful program it's going to be. the intellectual program comes first, then supper, than the serious business of drinking and exchanging business cards. [laughter] tonight we are honored to bestow aei's annual award, the irving kristol award, named in memory of our beloved friend and colleague, the late irving kristol. before we introduced this year's winter, i want to turn
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the microphone over to bill ours for soend of many years and the son of irving kristol, publisher of the weekly standard. he will speak about his father and his legacy. ladies and gentlemen, bill kristol. [applause] mr. kristol: good evening. it's an honor to join arthur and welcome you to this annual dinner, and congratulations to boris johnson on i think the 15th irving kristol award. it is a distinguished group that boris joins. before that, there was a quarter century of francis boyer awards, also very distinguished if you look it up, going back to 1977. i member when chris demuth in 2003 told my father the aei board had voted to change the annual award from the francis boyer lecture to the irving
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kristol lecture. my father was not much moved by these kinds of honors, honestly. but that one meant something to him. aei meant so much to him. i remember later on talking to him and saying, don't you feel a little guilty about francis boyer? and my father said no, not really. [laughter] he had a good run. the irving kristol award has had a good run, and hopefully it has a few good years and it. but it's a dog eat dog world out there. creative destruction, all that are in favorat aei of. mr. kristol: anyway, it has been a group. rabbi jonathan sacks, benjamin netanyahu. i'm looking over the list, reminded that a man who sadly died this summer, was the second awardee, and it's worth reading
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what he gave. to my mother, who is slightly indisposed, but she's in good shape. she sends her best. and so many old friends, former colleagues. she congratulates boris. she was pleased, she told me it's good they are giving the award to a magazine editor. my mother has probably read -- she said i read the spectator before boris johnson was born back in the 1940's and 1950's, and read it under his editorship in the late parts of the 2000 and has read it since. i said, one boris became mayor of london for two terms and foreign secretary, he's not just a magazine editor. my mother said, but the crystal magazine editor is the highest title. [laughter] [applause]
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mr. kristol: which i certainly agree with. i just want to say a word, but not about my father this time but about arthur. mother didn't know i was going to do this, but his 10 years have been extraordinary at aei. the lesson i take in management and institutions from the tenure of chris and arthur is, it's really a good thing for in institution to have excellent leaders. [laughter] mr. kristol: i recommend it to everybody else here. i mean, they really is. it's a high standard. a third of the century under chris and arthur being the think tank. it's a place that really respects excellence, but also respects diversity of views and approaches. it shows excellence and diversity can go together.
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it's always resistant of maybe once fashionable, while also influencing headlines at times. try to follow intellectual seclusion's and not worry too much whether they are popular, at least in the short term. all those things are in achievement of actually the predecessors to chris and arthur. especially in this last decade. he took over an organization that was already strong and he made it stronger. it's a good example for us in this day and age that shunning vulgarity, resisting conformity, avoiding mere popularity is the right thing to do. it's a very much been in the long-term interest of aei, which stands as an example now, i think.
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not just as a think tank, but to the academic world. author is stepping down as president of aei, and also stepping down by going to harvard. [laughter] mr. kristol: i mean, i say this as a loyal harvard man, but it's a true fact honestly, that the intellectual caliber of the work at aei, the commitment to honest and respectful discourse, but also serious discourse in terms of calling people to account, is i think something arthur can bring to harvard from aei. good luck with that, arthur. [laughter] mr. kristol: but i do want to say, i think aei is an example, not just for d.c., but for the country and for the world, an example we need more than ever. maybe i can even ask you, i don't have a glass here, but raise a glass and join me in toasting arthur brooks and will will be the last annual dinner he will be presiding over.
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he will be at a huge number of events before he leaves in spring and summer. art is planning a whole bunch of them, i believe, commemorating his tenure. [laughter] mr. kristol: but this is the less commemorative dinner he will be at. let's offer a toast to our friend, arthur brooks. >> here, here! mr. brooks: thank you, bill, and thank you to all of you. one of the many great things about this job is being able to meet the most interesting people in the world. and it's actually easy to call them up and say, would you like to come to aei? and they always say yes. it's incredible. and tonight's award winner is one of those people, somebody i've always wanted to meet. probably you have always wanted to meet him, too. he's a member of the british parliament. he was the u.k. secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs. he was the mayor of london. he's the best-selling author and renowned historian.
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he's a cult figure in the u.k., as a matter of fact, famous for everything from tackling a german politician and a soccer match, having a bicycle named after him, to his hair. and i say that just because i'm jealous. most importantly, this is a man who loves liberty, who values free enterprise, and who understands the role that his country and our country play in the future of the world. ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the entire aei community, scholars, staff, and trustees, it's my honor to present the award for the irving kristol award to the honorable boris johnson. [applause] fmr. sec. johnson: thank you very much, thank you. thank you. good on you. most honored, thank you. we'll get through dinner. thank you. i'm very honored.
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mr. brooks: hello, boris. fmr. sec. johnson: good evening, arthur. mr. brooks: i was under stress because you had votes in the parliament and you had to come this morning. we were watching your flight across the atlantic. fmr. sec. johnson: the votes wouldn't have kept me away, and i'm absolutely thrilled to be here at the american enterprise. you could have knocked me down with a feather when i got the news i was getting the irving kristol award, and i haven't been so surprised since i was 25 and i got a letter from monash university mellman, saying i was going to be a professor of european thought. turned out, it was a case of mistaken identity. [laughter]
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fmr. sec. johnson: that's what i'm here tonight. but this is a very, very important institution. i followed the work of aei scholars and of people associated with this body for many, many years. you have been incredibly influential and a driver for change and things i believe in. and it's great to be here tonight. mr. brooks: thank you for generosity. we're going to talk about high fluting things this evening, but i want to start at a personal level. something a lot of people don't know about you, you were born in america. fmr. sec. johnson: i was, in new york where my parents were. wanted to be close to my mother at the time. [laughter] fmr. sec. johnson: and it was a very expensive decision.
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it turned out, the united states what you call it, internal revenue. mr. brooks: well acquainted to people in this room. [laughter] fmr. sec. johnson: in order to help you guys out, they pursued me for my primary dwelling in london even though i haven't lived in america for 45 years, which i thought was excessive. [laughter] fmr. sec. johnson: so with great reluctance, and it was a very emotional moment. with great reluctance, i had to forswear that citizenship. mr. brooks: you renounce your citizenship? fmr. sec. johnson: what could i do? i was like the man in the bible. i had the great possessions. no, not great possessions. but enough. mr. brooks: you realize this makes it impossible for you to be elected president of the united states? fmr. sec. johnson: yes. [laughter]
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mr. brooks: tell me about your upbringing. one of the things that we have in common is that both of our mothers were professional painters. i found that interesting. tell me about your childhood. tell me about your upbringing a little bit. fmr. sec. johnson: it's absolutely true. my mother, she is a painter. and i've always wanted to paint very badly myself and indeed do paint very badly. [laughter] fmr. sec. johnson: she's an interesting figure to me. she, by the way, is on the left. i don't want to revel in that, but she is. i'm thoroughly afforded to painters everywhere. mr. brooks: good to know. boris has the painter vote. and you were brought up in a mixed household, left and right. what brought you to your politics? fmr. sec. johnson: funny enough, i was pretty middle-of-the-road until university, where it was the exposure to other left-wing students, the bourgeois,
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affluent, hypocritical left-wing students. and their hatred of margaret thatcher, about home i had no really strong views until then. and they supported the minors leader, arthur scargill, in his attempt to bring down the elected government of the u.k. and i felt stirrings of conservative sentiment then. mr. brooks: fundamentally, you're a contrarian. fmr. sec. johnson: that's good insight. my right-wing feelings were triggered by a sense of outrage at their glutinous hypocrisy.
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[laughter] mr. brooks: why don't we call it that in the united states? glutinous hypocrisy. with that win elections in america? -- would that win elections in america? fmr. sec. johnson: i think you should give it a go. [laughter] firstwhen was your elected office? as a the student -- student, i think. i tried to get elected in wales in 1997, which was the year of the biggest conservative route back in06, and i fought a big way. and i did not win. i then got in in 2001. mr. brooks: you've been in public life ever since? almost. fmr. sec. johnson: i was mayor of london for a few years.
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mr. brooks: i heard that. one of the things you are very well known for besides political life is being a best-selling author, which is pretty unusual, particularly if it's a highbrow intellectual work, which your churchill factor most certainly is. churchill you admire great deal. and in your great book, boris writes, "churchill matters today because he saved our civilization. and the important point is that only he could have done it." telling a little bit about your -- tell me a little bit about your inspiration from winston churchill and the key lessons he learned from him today and what we can learn from him today. fmr. sec. johnson: the key thing about churchill was that he was so fantastically brave. he wasn't a big guy. he was bullied at school. he was pelted with cricket
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balls. he was only 5'6" tall and he had a 30 inch chest. he was a shrimpy guy. but he turned himself, by pure will, into this extraordinary colossus, who dominated so much of british politics and world politics in the 20th century. and the key point for me is that although he made so many mistakes and got so many things wrong, from gallipoli to the abdication crisis, to going back on gold, his attitude toward indian independence, he got things catastrophically wrong. but the one big thing he got right in may, 1940, when the u.k. had to make a decision about whether to fight on or to do a deal with mussolini and with hitler. and if churchill hadn't been in
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that room, there's no doubt in my mind we would have come to terms. he made the difference. he decided it would be a disaster, that his country, the british empire, and civilization if we did that deal. and the year of that decision, 30,000 british men, women, and children were being killed by nazi bombs. 30,000, but as a result of his decision to fight on, i believe that he saved the european continent from absolute barbarism. [applause] fmr. sec. johnson: so, it was a willingness, just look at this. [laughter] mr. brooks: i'm already off script.
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fmr. sec. johnson: it was a willingness to think for himself and to be brave. follow that today. mr. brooks: give me an example of something where we need to be brave, follow our instincts to a more noble end. fmr. sec. johnson: i think that we need, when you look at our country, look at the u.k., we have a great choice right now. and we are in the throes of, you may have seen from the news, we are in the throes of deciding exactly how to carry out brexit. we did really well, we got through almost 10 minutes without brexit.
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i would just say to all you scholars of the american enterprise institute, this is a critical moment to anybody who cares about free markets, about competition, about global free trade, as you were saying earlier, all things are related to billions of people out of poverty. the u.k. could be about the communists of the european -- about to come loose of the european system, the regulation of government. it could be about to enter the global system as an economic actor again, able to campaign for procompetitive policies. [applause] fmr. sec. johnson: that's the opportunity. and i hope very much that with you guys, with america, we can work together to deliver that agenda. there's a conversation in my country about how to do it. it is difficult, but the last thing we want now is for us, the brits, having made this momentous decision to be sucked back by the track, the ruffles, the track to being is the word i want, into the orbit, the regulatory lunar pole. brits, having made this
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mr. brooks: russell is the death star -- brussels is the death star if you're not following. some of your best friends are in brussels. fmr. sec. johnson: i love brussels. my daughter was born in brussels. it's a wonderful time. and i love belgium. mr. brooks: chocolate, beer bureaucracy. , fmr. sec. johnson: the eu, for all its achievement, and there has been great achievement over the last 50-60 years, 70 years of the eu's existence. it's no longer write in its -- right in its current form for the u.k. we've done the right thing. we've done the right thing. [applause] fmr. sec. johnson: but having done that, having done that we've got to make sense of it. and there's no point at all in us coming out of the eu only to remain effectively in large measure, run by the eu.
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if you are going to take back control, take back control and use it for a purpose. i hope very much we get the support from you guys in achieving that objective. [applause] mr. brooks: i'm going to come back to this issue in just a minute, but i want to go slightly backward to another book that you wrote that bears on this subject. you wrote a very popular book about the history of rome, a n issue on which -- a subject on which you have expertise. the great things the romans did was create a common identity across cultures, languages, and tribes. yet you have also said that rome and the european union bear relatively little resemblance. so tell me, why are they so different? especially so we can get back to brexit and your understanding of the separation of the eu.
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fmr. sec. johnson: i was living in brussels, actually, and thinking deeply, as i always do, about european civilization and its relationship with its past. and i have no doubt at all, in a deep freudian way, the european integration federalists want to re-create the idea of this great unified hold that was represented by the roman empire. -- said the same thing just the other day. it was an amazing thing, the roman empire. it lasted, from 732 bc to whatever it was dated to. some say it still hasn't fallen. whatever, you know. 476 a.d., whatever. it was a long time. it was fantastically successful. and i think the difference is, between the eu and the roman empire, is very instructive. because what you've got now is an attempt to create this unity and this hold with anthems and a sort of medical union. not talking about creating a european president, that kind of thing.
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but what it lacks is that single, charismatic sense of identity and allegiance that the roman empire had. everybody knew the emperor and everybody important around the roman empire had to swear loyalty to the emperor and in some cases, actually worship the emperor. and the only real comparative with the roman empire today in terms of that pungent sense of identity, you know where i'm going with this. mr. brooks: i have an idea, but take me there. fmr. sec. johnson: is the united states.
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which takes people from around the world and makes them american, and has this extraordinary global brand to which everybody aspires. and the eu isn't like that. the eu is composed of different countries that have their own traditions and their own sense of identity. i think there is growing, a kind of sense of european identity. but it's nothing by comparison of national feeling in the european constant. and so i think the erosion of democracy in the eu is worrying. and you're seeing some bad effects now.
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mr. brooks: so give us some advice here. we're american. you're an admirer of this country. what do you see in identity politics today that remind you too much of the nationalities that made the -- possible due to its own internal contradictions? what are the warning signs you see today? fmr. sec. johnson: i think it would be impertinent of me to comment on american politics. mr. brooks: you already did. fmr. sec. johnson: no, no, no. i think -- i went to school here. my family went to school here. you pledge allegiance to the flag. everybody just saying the star-spangled banner. it's a fantastically unifying culture. and i applaud that and i admire that, have to say. as for the identity politics, that's a problem everywhere. we need to be unified. mr. brooks: i appreciate the fact that you admire that. i pray we never lose it. fmr. sec. johnson: i have not. i see no reason why you should. mr. brooks: back to brexit. you have strong views, obviously. well-known strong views on
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brexit. a lot of your fellow citizens in the u.k. disagree with you on this. you're a national leader. people look to you going forward. who knows what the future might bring? what are your plans for bringing america back together, as a people, across the terrible fissure that has differences on brexit? fmr. sec. johnson: like i say, i think america is in good shape. i'm not going to worry about america. and if i were to recover my american passport, i might take a role. mr. brooks: that's not going to happen. fmr. sec. johnson: but in the u.k., what we need to do is get on and deliver a great brexit. i have my views on how that should be done. i think it's possible to do that.
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i think a vision was sketched out in lancaster house in january of last year. a big trade deal. we need to get that done. then we need to get people together. people will want to come together. the best thing possible to unify the country is if we could have eaten the french in the world cup. [applause] fmr. sec. johnson: that was my plan. but, you know, back to the drawing board there. we came forth. we came second in the olympics, by the way. to you. [laughter] mr. brooks: you were modest and your advice to the united states. i want to talk a little about the united states interview a little bit more. i want to talk about the special relationship with the u.k.
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we talk about it a lot. it's important to us. it inspires all of us. i know it's important to you in the united kingdom, as well. tell me, what does the special relationship mean in your view? where is it and where are the perils we face today? fmr. sec. johnson: i ban the phrase special relationship in the office. it sounds kind of needy. i'm not sure it's much used in washington. it's a phrase that was coined by churchill. it's part of -- it's part of us trying to be more special. asymmetry. there's an asymmetry, 70 romanticso many relationships, there is an asymmetry implied. that's why i reject that term, but it matters. it matters hugely. we countries do represent i think values that are of fantastic importance to our
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world. freedom, democracy, the rule of law, this stuff really matters. and those values are not uncontested right now. and they're not necessarily prevailing in the way we thought they were going to. and we need to work harder together. that's why this special relationship, not that i'm going to use this phrase, but the u.s. and u.k. working together in parliament is more vital than ever before. -- with our friends and partners is more vital than ever before. but these are two countries that are united by economics. i think we have a million people go to work in the u.k. who are in u.s. companies. many people in the states working for british companies. it's an extraordinary thing. i guess i'm told until you watch the great british bake-off. is that right? there you go. that was the most enthusiastic
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response i've had all evening. i don't even watch the great british bake-off myself, i'm ashamed to say. but there's a huge cultural -- all the journalists in new york seem to be british. it's extraordinary. what's going on? that's an exaggeration, but you know there are brits , everywhere here. that's a fine thing. mr. brooks: we can't say special relationship anymore. i am trying to think what would be more modern. i'm thinking friends with benefits? that means something different here, sorry. fmr. sec. johnson: you've been very influential in reforming benefits. you know i don't know. mr. brooks: what do you believe, given the fact that there is a relationship, special or otherwise, between the u.k. and united states, what are the top four priorities we should be pursuing together?
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this is something you thought a lot about as foreign secretary. fmr. sec. johnson: we work hand in glove across the world. back to my main point, i think free-trade, opening up the economy, i worry about the closing in on our approach at the moment. global free global trade is not growing like the way it should be. we haven't had a big trade deal since the end of the uruguay round in 1994, which i covered myself as a journalist. we need to be doing that together. we should be doing better in the middle east. we should be working harder. syria, i've got to be honest with you, syria was not the right one. but anyway i don't want to get , on that particular rabbit hole. [applause] fmr. sec. johnson: one thing we
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should do, the biggest insight i had as foreign secretary, is that the main problems of the world could be addressed if we solved female undereducation around the world. if we educated women. [applause] fmr. sec. johnson: when i went to sub-saharan africa or i went finduth asia, i would countries where female illiteracy was almost 80% in parts of africa. in pakistan, you have twice as many male kids in secondary schools as female kids. now, how can that produce a healthy, balanced approach to life? i just, i just -- you look at radicalization, you look at poverty, you look at all the scourges that we face. they are all associated with that band of countries where women are not treated equally.
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where women and girls are not treated equally. so that's the one thing. [applause] fmr. sec. johnson: and it's because you have a swiss army knife. do you know what i mean by swiss army knife? it can do anything. i think quality education for every girl in the world would help fix most of the problems in the world. [applause] we should do that. arthur: you have strong views about the future of your country. as is appropriate. a lot of people follow what you think. a lot of people admire your leadership here and in your country. obviously your role in the u.k. , to change a lot in the coming months and years here. you must've given this thought. tell me the two things you would like to see your government do? boris: social mobility. social mobility. you think back to the great achievements that i spoke of earlier.
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it was about helping people achieve control of their own destiny, whether it was earning -- owning shares, which they hadn't thought of doing before, or buying their own homes. fantastically important. since that big change in the 1980's, social mobility has frozen again. we need to recover that momentum in the u.k. that is a big one. you wanted because key things. -- two things. i think building a 24 hour hub airport. not in my constituency. [laughter] second big item. arthur: number one agenda item for your country is greater social mobility. boris: no question. one of the reasons brexit took place, or people voted to leave,
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it was because they felt they were not getting -- people were stuck in entry-level jobs and not progressing. we are not focusing on those issues, we are not helping people enough. they are not being made to feel needed enough. it is a serious problem. perhaps it affects this country, too. arthur: before we finish, i have one question i want to ask you, in your public life, you are in the news a lot, sometimes you see controversy. you are not afraid to take on the hottest issues of the day. tell me the biggest mistake you have made in your public career, and what you have learned from it. boris: my strategy is to litter my career with so many decoy mistakes. [laughter] nobody knows which one to attack.
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in the course of the last few minutes, i probably said something that the british media will decide is absolutely outrageous. i do not know what it is, but they will find something. the thing is to keep saying them. i was proud of a lot of the stuff i did in london. people attacked me for the cycled superhighways. we get a beautiful lanes for the bicycles, which unfortunately blocked the taxis. they get very cross, but i defend it. we saved the lives of cyclists, and it is a beautiful thing to do for the city. i am passionate for cyclists. arthur: they are called boris bikes for a reason. that's true. called boris taxis. boris: electric vehicles, we started them.
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london is going great. come and visit. [laughter] the new guy, anyway -- never mind. i will give you one mistake that relates to the news today. arthur: wrapup on this point. boris: when i became foreign secretary, there was no reason why we should be so hostile to russia. there were lots of reasons to be suspicious, to be wary, to be cautious. but i thought it was possible, i made the classic mistake of thinking it was possible to have a reset with russia. i wanted to engage with putin to see if we can start talking about things like areas where we needed to engage, and do things together, tactically against terrorism and that sort.
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-- tackling islamist terrorism and the sort. then it became clearer and clearer to me that that was a fool's errand. the fourth, ich think it was this year, we had this outrageous event in salisbury where two agents, the russian gru were involved in the murder, the murder, and the attempted murder of others. you see what is happening now with these two characters produced in this satirical way by putin on russian tv, asking ludicrous questions, making a mockery of the whole thing.
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it really makes my blood boil. [applause] i just think for a government that wants to be taken seriously to behave like that in 2018, we really have to treat them -- i hold that regime in absolute contempt, it is absolutely appalling. [applause] i will say now, for those two guys on russian tv, they are murderers. if they dispute that, they can sue me in the court. [applause] arthur: you said the biggest mistake you made in your public career is having trusted the russians. boris: i believed i was
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sufficiently overconfident to think i could reach out and engage and make a difference. they just have not changed. i will say one thing, on the special relationship with the u.s. and the u.k., what is so fantastic is that after the use vichok in salisbury, 28 countries came together and expelled the biggest number of russian spies collectively that we have ever seen. [applause] i have to pay tribute to the united states, because you guys, i'm not certain how universally byular it was, they decision the government, but by gum, you came through with the goods, you expelled 60 russian spies.
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on behalf of the british people we are really grateful for the solidarity you showed. thank you very much. [applause] if that was a special relationship, i will take it. arthur: we will take it all day long. we are at the end of our time. on the behalf of my colleagues and friends, and personally, i want to express my admiration for a lot of things you have done, but particularly the public attitude you have for all the people in your society all , the people who need mobility , all the people on the periphery of society who might , suffer from despair, but can hear the words and understand an opportunity in society can and be should available to every person in your country. and indeed, that is the inspiration behind our institution, that the opportunity should be open to everyone.
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for that mission please join me , in thanking boris johnson. boris: thank you. [applause] thank you very much. [applause] journal"'s "washington live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up monday morning, washington post award-winning journalist bob woodward will join us to discuss his latest book "fear: trump in the white house." then we preview the week ahead for the white house and congress. be sure to watch "washington journal," at 7:00 eastern monday morning and on tuesday, ted star
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will be our guest at 8:30 a.m. eastern to discuss his book about the clinton investigation. monday, attorney general jeff sessions delivers remarks at the justice department's daylong forum on free speech on college campuses. watch monday live, 9:30 a.m. eastern on c-span two. morning, watch the senate judiciary committees debate and vote on the nomination of judge brett kavanaugh to the supreme court. if this man is successfully nominated, he could become the deciding vote on major legal issues that americans care deeply about. moved to report to the committee denomination of brett kavanaugh to the associate court. of the supreme >> follow the process live
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thursday morning starting at 9:30 a.m. eastern on c-span and c-span.org, or listen with the free c-span.org radio lab -- radio app. >> washington examiner reporter salena zito recently talked about the populist movement in the united states at a gathering of conservatives in austin, texas called the resurgent gathering. this is just over 30 minutes. >> so i am really excited. i was telling her that i wanted to invite her to come but i did not want to invite her to come because i know she is really busy, and she is flying in today to hang out with us and then literally has to fly back home because she has got an even tomorrow that she has to be at, so she came in just a couple hours ago and will leave again.

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