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British Prime Minister Theresa May said Britain's economy was likely going to suffer as a consequence of leaving the European Union. Her comments came as the G20 summit got underway in Hangzhou, China.
British Prime Minister Theresa May stressed that she and her government would continue to monitor economic data in the coming months before setting out a fiscal response to protect the country's economy. May expressed concern that the vote to leave the EU would probably reflect adversely on the country's economy.
"We've seen figures giving some different messages in relation to the economy at the moment. I think the reaction of the economy has been better than some had predicted post- the referendum, but I won't pretend it's going to be all plain sailing," May told reporters.
"There will be difficult times ahead," she added. Her comments came as thousands attended protests across the UK against the Brexit vote.
Recent economic research indicated that the impact of the Brexit referendum in June 2016 had not been as radical as some predicted, though financial markets around the world reacted negatively, with some even predicting a recession for the UK.
The G20 forum in Hangzhou is May's first major international summit since taking over as British prime minister. Following talks with US President Barack Obama on the summit's sidelines, May said the UK would continue to pursue an aggressive trade relationship with the US, despite the decision to leave the EU.
We will "pursue the opportunities that Brexit presents," she said.
Obama said the two countries would continue strengthening their "special relationship" and cooperating closely on cyber security, terrorism and trade.
The United States has been negotiating a broad EU trade deal, and Obama had warned ahead of the Brexit vote that Britain would go to the back of the queue for a bilateral deal if it left the bloc.
No early negotiations
May has said her government will wait until 2017 to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to leave the EU. After Article 50 is invoked, the UK and EU will have two years to negotiate the details of Britain's exit.
The prime minister told reporters at the summit that Britain would definitely leave the EU, adding that there "will be no second referendum, no attempt to turn the clock back or get out of this."
European Council President Donald Tusk said Sunday there would be no negotiations with Britain on the terms of its departure from the bloc until London formally invokes the leaving process, adding that any premature steps would not be in the interests of the remaining 27 EU members.
"We need to protect the interests of the members of the EU that want to stay together, not the one which wants to leave," he said.
'Golden era' between the UK and China
Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet with May, presumably to discuss the fate of the Hinkley Point nuclear plant in the UK - a major Chinese investment
Chinese President Xi Jinping will also have a one-on-one meeting with May following an earlier statement by the British prime minister, saying that she wanted Britain to be a "global leader in free trade" after Brexit, with China as a key partner in trade.
"This is a golden era for UK-China relations, and one of the things I'll be doing at the G20 is obviously talking to President Xi about how we can develop the strategic partnership that we have between the UK and China," she said.
"But I'll also be talking to other world leaders about how we can develop free trade around the globe and how Britain wants to seize those opportunities. My ambition is that Britain will be a global leader in free trade," she added.
May's statements came, however, amid speculation that the prime minister could be planning to cancel the construction of a new nuclear plant in the UK with a huge Chinese investment. May is expected to make an announcement during her visit in China on whether the Hinkley Point nuclear development will still go ahead later this month.
An official review of the Hinkley Point power plant citing security concerns was announced shortly after May took office, effectively postponing the 18-billion pound ($24 billion) project, one third of which is financed by Chinese investors.
ss,nm/sms (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)