Lord Speaker's thanks to President Zelenskyy
8 February 2023 (updated on 8 February 2023)
On Wednesday 8 February 2023, the Lord Speaker and Speaker of the House of Commons welcome President Zelenskyy of Ukraine to address both Houses of Parliament in Westminster Hall.
Thanking President Zelenskyy for his speech, the Lord Speaker said:
'Thank you, Mr President, for being with us today and for the powerful address that you have just given. The bravery, resilience and fortitude of you and your people is a great example to us all.
This great Hall in which we stand – with its walls first built more than 900 years ago - has seen many speeches from great and iconic leaders. Today’s event will weave a new panel in that rich tapestry of history.
Westminster Hall is at the core of the national life of our country, and has played a prominent role in the development of our judicial system and our Parliamentary democracy. But the story of this Hall is also a tale of resilience, and of remaining steadfast in the face of disaster. While fire raged around this site in 1834, destroying our old Parliament, Westminster Hall stood proud. When, during the Second World War, bombs rained on London, Westminster Hall remained largely undamaged, stoic in the face of great peril.
This Hall reminds us that in the face of challenge and conflict, symbols of our national identity and sovereignty will endure, giving powerful and visible hope to our peoples during times of tribulation. In the same way, the endurance of your Government and its institutions, in the midst of a colossal threat to Ukraine, continues to inspire your population and millions more beyond your borders.
This endurance and inspiration rests in large part upon the leadership that you have demonstrated since your country was forced into this terrible conflict – a conflict which you did not choose.
Effective leadership demands the ability to respond to unpredictable challenges. Mr President, in the extraordinary situation in which you were placed, visibility was essential. In testing times leaders must be visible to their people and from the outset, last February, when bombs were falling on Kyiv, you were visible. Broadcasting from the streets of your capital you reassured Ukrainians - and indeed the world - of the determination of your Government, in the face of violent aggression.
Your leadership has also been steadfast. In the early days of this conflict some suggested that the Ukrainian state could not withstand the Russian threat, and that the war would quickly end. In one of your broadcasts during the early bombardment you famously said “we are all here”. You did not leave. You showed the world that your Government was still at work in Kyiv, and was fully committed to the defence of Ukraine. Your people have followed this example with an inspirational display of bravery.
Vision has also characterised your leadership. You have not only expressed your belief in the continuing ability of Ukrainians to withstand aggression, but have embodied that belief, offering hope of a reconstructed Ukraine playing its full part in the future of Europe. That vision will continue to sustain you and your people in the difficult times ahead.
Finally, a great leader never gives up. Selflessness and bringing people together are the essence of leadership. Mr President, you exemplify these qualities in abundance.
We salute your determination, your resilience, your courage.
So let me thank you once again, Mr President, for your visit today. We wish you and the Ukrainian people success, strength and fortitude. You are not alone in this struggle. This Parliament stands with you in solidarity as you continue this noble fight. Thank you.'