Britain's May seeks out new trading relations post-Brexit

U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister Theresa May shake hands at the conclusion of a news conference after their bilateral meeting in Hangzhou in eastern China's Zhejiang province, Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016, alongside the G20. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister Theresa May talk to media after their bilateral meeting in Hangzhou in eastern China's Zhejiang province, Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016, alongside the G20. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
British Prime Minister Theresa May talks to media with U.S. President Barack Obama after their bilateral meeting in Hangzhou in eastern China's Zhejiang province, Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016, alongside the G20. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister Theresa May talk to media after their bilateral meeting in Hangzhou in eastern China's Zhejiang province, Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016, alongside the G20. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister Theresa May talk to media after a bilateral meeting in Hangzhou in eastern China's Zhejiang province, Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016, alongside the G20. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

HANGZHOU, China — British Prime Minister Theresa May said Sunday that she intends to seize new trading opportunities for a Britain that has voted to leave the European Union, reiterating that "Brexit does indeed mean Brexit" and there will be "no attempt to get out of this."

After May's first meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama since she became British leader in July, the two leaders sought to downplay the impact of a British exit on the much touted "special relationship" between the U.S. and U.K.

But Obama did not back away from his assertion, first made as he campaigned against the exit, that Great Britain would have to wait its turn before the United States prioritized a new, separate trade deal with a newly independent Great Britain. Obama noted the U.S. remains focused on finishing trade deals with Asia-Pacific and with the European Union.

The president said that he believed that Britain's priority meanwhile was "figuring out what Brexit means with respect to Europe." Still, Obama promised to work closely with May to avoid "adverse effects" in the trade relationship.

The British people narrowly voted to leave the EU in June, but the government has yet to formally invoke Article 50, the EU treaty clause that would set up its departure. Invoking the clause would start a two-year countdown that would be unlikely to benefit Britain as it has not yet worked out what it wants its future relationship with the European Union to look like. There is also opposition to a British exit among a significant part of the population and questions over whether Parliament will be given a formal vote on triggering Article 50.

"There will be no second referendum, no attempt to turn the clock back, no attempt to try to get out of this," May told reporters on the sidelines of the G-20 economic summit. "The UK will be leaving the European Union."

At a separate news conference minutes later, European Council President Donald Tusk reiterated the EU's stance that they will not start negotiating with Britain on its future relationship with a 27-member bloc until the British government formally invokes Article 50.

He said his words may sound "brutal," but: "We need to protect the interests of the members of the EU that want to stay together, not the one which wants to leave."

May also said that she would take a decision this month on whether to approve a French-built and Chinese-backed power plant project in Britain that Beijing is counting on to boost its nuclear technology exports. She abruptly stalled approval for the project pushed through by her predecessor, and said Sunday she was reviewing "all the evidence around this issue," including relating to national security.

Critics of the planned Hinkley Point project say its technology is untested, it is a bad financial deal for Britain and serious concerns remain about a Chinese state-owned company investing in key infrastructure that could give Beijing major political leverage in the event of a conflict.

AP writer Kathleen Hennessey contributed to this report.

Must Read

China promises cooperation on steel at global summit

Sep 5, 2016

China promises cooperation on steel at global summit amid pressure for trade curbs

Hong Kong pro-democracy candidates retain veto in key vote

Sep 5, 2016

A group of young Hong Kong pro-democracy activists has pulled off a stunning election victory,...

China says it can't end North Korea nuke program on its own

Sep 12, 2016

China says the United States has inflamed the conflict on the Korean Peninsula and must carry the...

Alibaba fires 4 employees accused of stealing mooncakes

Sep 14, 2016

Four employees at Chinese internet giant Alibaba have lost their jobs after being accused of...

Chinese carrier carries out fighter drills on open seas

Dec 24, 2016

China's military says its first aircraft carrier group has carried out a series of fighter launch,...