November 8, 2016 / 11:16 AM / 3 years ago

UK economy very strong, government committed to fiscal discipline: May

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May walks out of 10 Downing Street to welcome Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos in London, Britain November 2, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville

BENGALURU, India (Reuters) - Prime Minister Theresa May said the fundamentals of the British economy were very strong and affirmed her commitment to strengthening public finances after a report indicated that Brexit will prolong the country’s reliance on borrowing.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies predicted Britain will only start to lower public debt as a share of GDP at the end of the decade due to a hit to the economy resulting from the country’s withdrawal from the European Union.

“The fundamentals of the UK economy are strong, we’ve seen our deficit reduced by two thirds. We are determined to continue to live within our means,” she told the BBC during a trip to India on Tuesday.

“What I have heard here from businesses is that they see the UK as an attractive place to do business, an attractive place to invest and they want us to develop that relationship so there is more trade, that means more jobs, more investment in the UK.”

Asked about the upcoming Brexit negotiations, May said she expected tough talks.

“Negotiations on Brexit will be complex, and there will be challenges ahead for us,” she said.

“I am ambitious for the UK, I am optimistic but I am also determined, determined that we are going to get the best deal possible for the UK, determined to grasp the opportunites for global Britain that leaving the European Union gives us.”

Asked whether she expected a transitional deal after 2019 where the UK continues to pay into EU budgets and has access to the single market, she told Sky News: “All I’m focusing on is preparing to trigger Article 50.”

“I recognize that people want certainty, which is why I’ve already said that they can be certain that EU law will be brought into UK law at the point at which we leave, so that everybody knows that at that point things like workers’ rights will be protected and will continue to be protected.”

Reporting by Kylie MacLellan, writing by William James, editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Estelle Shirbon

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