International desk – Britain needs to be prepared for some “difficult times” ahead as it leaves the European Union, Prime Minister Theresa May has said, according to BBC.
Speaking to the Andrew Marr Show – in her first major interview since taking office – May warned Brexit would not be “plain sailing” for the UK.
She said formal EU talks will not begin until 2017, but vowed the process would not be “kicked into the long grass”.
May also ruled out a snap general election, as the UK needs “stability”.
The former home secretary became prime minister after David Cameron resigned in the wake of the EU referendum – with the Brexit process likely to dominate the first years of her premiership.
Speaking before travelling to China for the G20 summit, May said she would not pretend that leaving the union would be “plain sailing”, despite positive economic figures in the UK since the referendum.
“We have had some good figures and better figures than some had predicted would be the case. I’m not going to pretend that it’s all going to be plain sailing.
“I think we must be prepared for the fact that there may be some difficult times ahead. But what I am is optimistic.”
She insisted the country would “make a success” of leaving the EU, saying she was also “optimistic” about new opportunities for Britain outside the EU.
The prime minister said she wanted “an independent Britain, forging our own way in the world”.
Ahead of the summit, she met with US President Barack Obama.
Speaking to reporters afterwards, President Obama said the US would “consult closely” with the UK over Brexit negotiations to ensure there were no “adverse effects” in the US-UK trading relationship.
He said: “We’re going to do everything we can to make sure that the consequences of the decision don’t end up unravelling what is already a very strong and robust economic relationship that can become even stronger in the future.”
But President Obama said before that it would be important to work out “what Brexit means for Europe”.
He denied suggestions that earlier this year he had threatened to “punish” the UK if it voted to leave the EU when he said the UK it would go to the “back of the queue” for trade deals with the US.
“The basic premise is that together we reaffirm the very special relationship between the US and the UK,” Obama said.
He said those comments, made in April, had been in response to suggestions that the effects of Brexit would be “minimal”.
In her interview with the BBC, May said the referendum result had shown voters did not want “free movement to continue in the way that it has done in the past”.
She said ministers were looking at “options” for new EU migration controls.
“People also want to see the job opportunities, to see the economic opportunities, and so getting a good deal in trading goods and services is also obviously important for us,” she added.