Theresa May rules out snap election and warns of 'difficult times'


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.

The Prime Minister said the Scottish people did not want another vote on independence, and again firmly ruled out a second EU referendum.

Mrs May would not be drawn on whether she backed new grammar schools, and insisted she had not yet made up her mind on the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant deal with China.

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 that the country is facing and have that election in 2020."

Mrs May said the EU 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.

"They do want to see controls of movement of people coming in from the European Union. Now, obviously we're looking at what - 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.

Mrs May, who said she will not formally trigger withdrawal negotiations by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty before the end of this year, acknowledged voters wanted to see the process under way.

"I'm very clear also that the British people don't want the issue of Article 50 being triggered just being kicked into the long grass because they want to know we're getting on with the job of - of putting Brexit into place and making a success of it."

The PM warned it would not be "plain sailing" despite some encouraging economic data.

"We have had some good figures and better figures that 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." 

Pressed on whether she would back a second break-away poll in Scotland, Mrs May said: "I don't think it's a question of whether there could be, I think it's a question of whether there should be. And I think if you look at some of the results that are now coming out of polling in Scotland, they suggest that the Scottish people don't want there to be a second referendum."

The Prime Minister promised a decision on the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant deal with the Chinese this month after concerns were raised regarding national security.

"I'm looking at the Hinkley decision, but it's about how I actually approach these things, which is; I don't just come in and say, right, this the position I take. I look at the evidence, I take the advice, I listen to that. That's what I'm still doing. 

"As home secretary in the past, of course, and as Prime Minister, national security is a key issue for us. But in terms of that individual decision, I'll be looking at all aspects of it and come to a decision in September."

Mrs May side-stepped questions regarding whether she wanted more grammar schools, insisting the issue was being examined by Education Secretary Justine Greening.