THERESA May has told world leaders she’ll cling on as Prime Minister for the next two years at least.

The Prime Minister, who was in Hamburg for the G20 summit, insisted the weakness of her minority government – propped up by the DUP – and the isolation of Brexit would not diminish the UK’s global influence.

“What I see as I talk to leaders around the world is engaging with and working with the UK – new friends and old allies alike – as we leave the EU,” she told the BBC’s John Pienaar.

Loading article content

“There are no prizes for guessing that the election result did not come out as I hoped it would.

“There are two ways the government can react to that. We either be ‘very timid’ and sit back or we can be bold and that is what we are going to be.

“We are going to bold because the UK is facing challenges that we need to address.”

As the Prime Minister went into the summit she was asked if she would still be in No 10 in 2019 and if she was still capable of leading Brexit negotiations.

“We will be playing our absolutely full part and I’ll be playing my full part,” she replied.

She also appeared to open up the prospect of the UK staying in some form within the customs union when it leaves the European Union, by saying: “We do want to ensure that we can trade around the rest of the world. That means we can’t be members of every part of the customs union.”

Leaders from the world’s 19 biggest developed and emerging economies, and the EU, began the two-day meeting yesterday, with trade, climate change, terrorism and other key global issues discussed.

Chancellor Philip Hammond, who is attending meetings on the margins of the summit, told reporters he was trying to get the British people a “sensible Brexit” and, in a fairly transparent warning to fervent Leave-backing colleagues, said it would be “madness” not to seek a close relationship with the EU.

“It would be madness not to seek to have the closest possible arrangement with them going forward,” he told reporters.

He added: “I’ve been clear that I do not believe it is either legally or politically possible to stay in the customs union and in the single market.”

“My preference is that we negotiate a transitional structure which takes us outside of those memberships but in the transition phase replicates as much as possible of the existing arrangements so that the shock to business is minimised for the transition period.”

He added: “The thing that I remind my colleagues is that if we lose access to our European markets, that will be an instant effect, overnight.

“To people who are looking to us to protect jobs, economic growth, living standards, they won’t thank us if we deliver them an instant hit with only a longer-term, slowly building benefit to compensate for it.”

Hammond’s comments came as more than 30 business leaders had a five-hour summit with the Brexit Secretary David Davis.