Annus horribilis? Theresa May shrugs off talk of tough 2017

In 2017, Theresa May lost her majority and three cabinet ministers, and her Conservative conference comeback speech was dogged by a prankster and a coughing fit.

But on Friday the prime minister shrugged off the idea that it had been her annus horribilis.

On a visit to Poland and Cyprus, May also joked about a slip during her press conference in Warsaw when she was referred to as “Madam Brexit” and said she did not want her time in Downing Street to be known solely for Britain leaving the EU.

Speaking before her final official visit of the year, to RAF Akrotiri, May brushed off the suggestion that 2017 had been the hardest year of her career.

“If you look at what’s happened over the past couple of months, we have made sufficient progress on the Brexit negotiations, we have had a good budget that is building a Britain that is fit for the future,” she said.

May said the budget had delivered new funding to the health service and housing, and she cited the government’s industrial strategy as an “absolutely crucial plan and part of actually ensuring that our economy does meet the needs of the future and is providing the jobs of the future for the people in the UK”.

The prime minister, speaking on board an RAF Voyager en route to Cyprus, said she intended to make a number of key international trips in 2018, to emphasise both trade and defence and security cooperation. She is set to make her first official visit to China early in the new year.

May said she was amused when she heard herself referred to as “Madam Brexit” in Poland. “You might have noticed I smiled when I heard the translation,” she said.

“Look, I am going to deliver on Brexit. That is undoubtedly the case, but I am doing other things as well. If you look at the changes we are making on skills, education and training, for example.”

May has previously insisted she plans to lead the Conservatives into the general election in 2022, and on Friday she said that was still her intention. “I’m in it for the long term,” she said.

“I’m here to do the job that I believe needs to be done and that’s what I’m going to focus on. I’m doing the job that I believe is right for the British people.”

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Jessica Elgot, for The Guardian on Friday 22nd December 2017 22.00 Europe/London

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