LONDON: Prime Minister Theresa May warned of possible “difficult times ahead” for Britain’s economy in an interview screened Sunday as she sought to build post-Brexit trade ties at the G20 summit in China.
Speaking to BBC television, May also ruled out a new general election in the near future, saying Britain needed stability following June’s referendum vote to pull out of the European Union.
She voiced optimism about the health of Britain’s economy but warned that there could be tough times ahead.
“I’m not going to pretend that it’s all going to be plain sailing,” she said. “I think we must be prepared for the fact that there may be some difficult times ahead. But what I am is optimistic.”
May, who took office in July after David Cameron quit following the referendum, also confirmed that she is not intending to call a general election soon.
This is despite the ruling Conservative party having only a small majority in the House of Commons, which could make it hard to pass controversial laws, and Jeremy Corbyn’s deeply divided opposition Labour lagging in opinion polls and holding a leadership contest.
“I’m not going to be calling a snap election,” May said.
“I’ve been very clear that I think we need that period of time, that stability, to be able to deal with the issues that the country is facing and have that election in 2020.”
She added that Brexit minister David Davis would make a statement in the Commons this week on the way forward. Lawmakers return Monday after their summer recess.
“He will be making a statement to parliament this week about the work that the government has been doing over the summer and obviously how we are going to take that forward in shaping the sort of relationship we want with the EU,” she said.
May is meeting world leaders including US President Barack Obama and China’s Xi Jinping at the G20 summit.
She told the BBC she wanted to “start to scope out” with them how future trade deals would look post-Brexit.
But Obama has warned against the effects of Brexit and told Britons during the referendum campaign they would go “to the back of the queue” for a US trade deal if they voted to leave.
European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker also said Sunday he opposes trade negotiations between Britain and other nations while it remains part of the bloc after Australia said it was about to launch talks on the issue.