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UK leader Theresa May: 'I'm a promoter of free trade, I believe in free trade'

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May rubber-stamped her globalist agenda to CNBC Thursday, underlining that the country will not give in to protectionism and isolationism.

"If we look at free trade and globalization, I'm a promoter of free trade, I believe in free trade. I believe that it brings economic growth and prosperity. And globalization does," she told CNBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

"But it must accept that some people they do feel like they have been left behind," she added.

The U.K.'s vote to leave the European Union last year is perceived by many as a rejection of current models of globalization and free trade. However, the country's new prime minister has the tough task of embracing disgruntled citizens that are questioning these ideas, while telling the global community that Britain is still very much open for business.

"They also feel that perhaps some of the mainstream politicians haven't listened to their concerns," she told CNBC on her first visit to Davos.

"We need to listen to those concerns. We need to respond to them. We also need to show the benefits of globalization and free trade, that it does bring jobs and it does bring prosperity," she added.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May delivers a speech on the first day of the Conservative party annual conference at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham.
Oli Scarff | AFP | Getty Images
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May delivers a speech on the first day of the Conservative party annual conference at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham.

May's words to CNBC came after two major speeches by the prime minister this week. On Thursday, she addressed a crowd of international political and financial leaders at Davos, reassuring business and political leaders that Britain would remain open for business after it quits the European Union.

The U.K. leader also stressed businesses must pay their fair share in taxes.

"It is essential for business to demonstrate leadership, to show that in this globalized world, everyone is playing by the same rules and that the benefits of economic success are there for all our citizens," she said.

Earlier in the week, May outlined the country's plans to make a clean break from the EU. In a wide-ranging speech, May confirmed the U.K. was destined to leave the single market and that a potential Brexit deal with the EU would require a parliamentary vote.

She also warned that the U.K. would walk away from talks should the EU fail to meet the right Brexit agreement.

—CNBC's Sam Meredith contributed to this report.

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