**Theresa May sets out stall for UK’s place in Trump’s world
Britain must be global leader in free trade, says PM, after Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s election as US president
Britain must “adapt to the moment and evolve its thinking” to become a global leader in free trade, Theresa May is to say.
The prime minister will pledge to lead the charge in remaking globalisation, days after Donald Trump was elected US president on the promise of protecting American industry and ending a string of free trade agreements.**
May’s speech will be seen as an attempt to reposition the UK after the Brexit vote and the US presidential election and as a response to Nigel Farage becoming the first UK politician to meet the president-elect over the weekend.
“Not standing inflexibly, refusing to change and still fighting the battles of the past, but adapting to the moment, evolving our thinking and seizing the opportunities ahead. That is the kind of leadership we need today,” May will tell the lord mayor’s banquet in London.
During his election campaign, Trump argued repeatedly that the pursuit of free trade policies had predicated the collapse of homegrown manufacturing industry, bringing cheap consumer goods at the expense of American jobs.
He has since appeared to row back on a number of campaign promises, and in his first TV interview since being elected he told CBS’s 60 Minutes programme on Sunday night there “could be some fencing” in his proposed border wall with Mexico.
Less than a week after the victory of the real estate billionaire, whose own business dealings have come under repeated scrutiny, May’s speech will warn about the undermining of the social contract when “a minority of businesses and business figures appear to game the system and work to a different set of rules”.
**Businesses and governments must change to regain that trust, she is to say, “not just to do business but to do that business in the right way.
“Asking business to work with government to play its part is profoundly pro-business, because it is fundamental to retaining faith in capitalism and free markets. To be the true global champion of free trade in this new modern world, we also need to do something to help those families and communities who can actually lose out from it.”**
Britain cannot afford to stand still in the era of such vast and sweeping changes to political orthodoxy, May will say at London’s Guildhall. “So often over our long history, this country has set the template for others to follow.
“We have so often been the pioneer – the outrider – that has acted to usher in a new idea or approach. And we have that same opportunity today.”
The prime minister will say she will be unrepentant in her argument that free markets and free trade are the best remedy for poverty, but that the government “can also do much more to ensure the prosperity they provide is shared by all”.