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Interview with Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, from the World Economic Forum 2017


Following are excerpts from a CNBC interview with Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, from the World Economic Forum 2017 with Steve Sedgwick.

SS: Prime Minister very good to speak to you. You talked today in your speech about those who embrace politics of division and despair the middle-ground must seize these back actually from those politicians that are thriving on it, do you not fear though that the current environment with the political agenda we are seeing in 2017, the expected elections and possibly unexpected elections we are only going to see more of that kind of fiery language that is going to delay and perhaps delay some of the seriousness discussions over Brexit?

TM: You know the message I was giving was a very simple one which, is that I think if we look at free trade at globalization I'm a a promoter of free trade. I believe in free trade. I believe that it brings economic growth and prosperity, and globalization does. But we must accept that for some people they do feel that they've been left behind. And I think it's - and they also feel that perhaps some of the mainstream politicians haven't listened to their concerns. 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 it does bring economic growth and it does bring prosperity.

SS: But some of the language; from our foreign secretary telling the French not to administer punishment beatings on anybody who wants to escape. From Mr. Dijsselbloem who's a very serious politician saying the British will end up with a massive unemployment, totally impoverished in 20 years and will be back to the 70s. These are serious politicians it doesn't help, does it Mrs. May?

TM: Well the point the foreign secretary was making was a point that I've made which is that actually if we look at the future negotiation with the European Union that the free trade agreement that we want to negotiate with the EU for when we're outside actually it's in both sides interest to have a good agreement. It's in both sides interest to ensure we have minimal disruption to our economies, that businesses from the UK can trade in Europe but also that businesses from the remaining 27 member states can trade in the UK too.

SS: Is there a feeling though that this will be delayed the electoral agenda of 2017 will delay things as well. In fact we're also hearing from the likes of Mr. Muscat who's taking on the EU rotating presidency that the Brits must agree to the divorce terms of the EU, we must pay up 60 billion euros before we can even talk about free trade with a chance of getting a free trade deal in a couple of years. It seems long and far away.

TM: I think that as we start Of course we haven't triggered the formal negotiations, the start of the formal negotiations yet. I think that when we reach into those formal negotiations what people will see as the benefit of having that trade agreement. So at the point where we leave the European Union everybody will know what the arrangements are and what the basis of our future partnership is. I want to see a good close strategic partnership with the European Union, continuing to cooperate on security and defence. But yes with that good trade agreement with the European Union too. I think that's not just in the UK's interest it's not just in the interest of the global Britain I want to build, but it's also in the interests of the EU

SS: And Mrs. May, are we threatening the Europeans with a tax war as well. Herr Schäuble said our G20 commitments that we can't do that. But Mr. Hammond saying look if we dont get a good free trade deal then we will have to respond in kind and that is seen as cutting corporate taxes aggressively in order to make Britain more competitive.

TM: What we're doing is setting out very clearly for people what the position will be. I'm optimistic. I anticipate I expect we'll be able to negotiate a good deal. But we're not going to sign up to a bad deal.

SS: Prime Minister, Thank you very much