Theresa May admits Brexit challenges but insists 'we will make a success of it'

The British PM spoke of her wish to "forge a new role in the world post-Brexit" in a rare newspaper interview

Theresa May admits Brexit challenges but insists 'we will make a success of it'

Image: Kirsty Wigglesworth / AP/Press Association Images

Theresa May admits Brexit is keeping her awake at night, offering a glimpse of the challenge the new British Prime Minister is grappling with in the wake of the referendum vote.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, Mrs May says she is very conscious that she needs to get on with delivering a deal. 

"It's a moment of change. It's a hugely challenging time. And we need to get on with the terms of Brexit. And I'm very conscious of that," she says.

"I want to make sure that everything we do ensures Britain is a country that works for everyone. And that we really get out there and forge a new role in the world post-Brexit.

"We can make a success of it, we will make a success of it. But these are really complex issues."

The wide-ranging interview offers some insight into the inner workings of this intensively private prime minister. 

Opening up about her own childhood as the only child of a clergyman, her husband Philip and her own inability to have children, Mrs May reveals some of what drives her - her Christian faith, her self-belief and her sense of duty.

"Being brought up in a vicarage, of course the advantage is that you do see people from all walks of life. What came out of my upbringing was a sense of service ... my father would be out and about visiting people," she explains.

"My parents' approach was very much: whatever you do, do your best. There was never any suggestion that because I was a girl there were things I couldn't do."

Mrs May's closest confidant is her husband of 36 years, Philip, who she met at Oxford university and who she describes as her "huge support".

The couple do not have children, which Mrs May admitted earlier in the year had "affected" both of them.

"That wasn't possible so you get on with life."

Mrs May says her husband is getting used to being the consort for the country's most powerful politician.

"It's taken a bit of adjusting for him to see people writing about what he wears and taking selfies of him, but he's getting used to it!

"He's been surprised by how much interest he's had. Philip says he gets 90% of the fun for only 10% of the effort."

She is also candid about drawing on her faith to guide her in the decisions she takes.

"I suppose there is something in terms of faith, I am a practising member of the Church of England and so forth, that lies behind what I do."

Mrs May also uses the interview to mount a spirited defence of the troubled independent inquiry into child sexual abuse, which she set up in 2014 while serving as the UK's home secretary. 

The inquiry has been through three leaders in its short life, suffering a catalogue of problems which a committee this week said had "seriously diminished" confidence in its ability to deliver on objectives in a "timely and effective way".

She says: "The easy thing to have done would have been to say, 'This is too difficult to be done, we're not going to do that'.

"I met some of the survivors, adult and children. When you realise some of the horrific things that have been done to them in the past, and for so many of them, they feel they raised their voices and nothing happened ... And that's why I feel it's so important we remember them and it's why I set the inquiry up."