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No UK election before 2020, says PM May

By Shaun Connolly

Published 05/09/2016

Prime Minister Theresa May and Barack Obama shake hands after a meeting at the G20 summit in China
Prime Minister Theresa May and Barack Obama shake hands after a meeting at the G20 summit in China

There will be no snap general election before 2020, Prime Minister Theresa May has insisted in her first major interview since taking office.

Mrs May told The Andrew Marr Show the country needed a period of stability after the shockwaves of the pro-Brexit vote, and that the UK should be prepared for "difficult times" ahead despite a slew of better than expected economic indicators.

The Prime Minister insisted controls on the movement of people from the EU to Britain needed to be imposed as part of an exit deal with Brussels.

Brexit Secretary David Davis will make a statement to the Commons this week on the Government's emerging position on the terms of withdrawal, and what kind of relationship the UK wants with the EU, Mrs May said.

Pressed on whether she was tempted to call a snap general election with polls showing she could increase her knife-edge majority to one of 130 seats, Mrs May told the BBC: "I'm not going to be calling a snap election. I've been very clear that I think we need that period of time, that stability to be able to deal with the issues the country is facing and have that election in 2020."

Mrs May said the referendum result showed Britain could no longer accept free movement of labour.

"What the vote, what leaving the European Union does enable us to do is, yes, to say what I think the British people are very clear about, which is that they don't want free movement to continue in the way that it has done in the past," she said.

"They do want to see controls of movement of people coming in from the European Union. Now, obviously we're looking at what those options are, what that might be.

"But 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," the PM said in an interview recorded in her constituency before she headed to China for the G20 summit.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama has said the US and UK will have to do everything they can to make sure strong trade links do not start "unravelling" as a result of Brexit. In a blow to Brexiteers' hopes of a quick trade deal with the US, he stood by his comment that the UK was now at the "back of the queue" for trade talks.

Speaking at the G20 Summit alongside Theresa May, he said the US trade negotiations with the EU is his priority.

"It is absolutely true that I believe pre-Brexit vote and post-Brexit vote that the world benefited enormously from the UK's participation in the EU," he said. "But I also said at the time (of making the comment) that ultimately this was a decision for the British people."

Mr Obama said that he never meant to say that the US would "punish Great Britain", but simply that he wanted to challenge the "notion" that the consequences of Brexit were negligible and that Brexiteers would "just go ahead and light-up a whole bunch of free trade agreements".

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