After the first round of Brexit talks coming to an unexpectedly smooth conclusion, Theresa May entered the new year grappling with members of her own party – notably Boris Johnson, her own foreign secretary – over a brewing crisis at the NHS.
So, in what we imagine was a badly needed getaway, May seized the opportunity for a star-making appearance at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday, where she delivered a speech and met with President Donald Trump.
Famously a Luddite, May surprised observers by focusing on the positive advances in Artificial Intelligence and its possible benefits, while touting the UK’s status as a leading innovator (behind China and the US, of course).
Speaking of flying cars and the ability to prevent pandemics, May painted a picture where many of our modern problems are ameliorated by technology.
But she also acknowleged that “as we seize these opportunities of technology so we also shape this change to ensure it works for everyone, be that in people’s jobs or their daily lives.”
May said “we need to act decisively to help people benefit from global growth now…”
“I was appalled by the reports that I read. What worries meis it’s not just about that event it’s about this wider issue in society about the progress of women…”
…I’m going to continue to work to ensure that we can get to a point where women are truly accepted and respected as equals.”
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Later, while responding to a question about regulating bitcoin, May promised to consider clamping down on bitcoin as she raised concerns that cryptocurrencies are being used by criminals, Bloomberg reported.
“In areas like cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, we should be looking at these very seriously,” May said in a television interview in Davos with Bloomberg’s Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait. Action on crypto-currencies may be needed “precisely because of the way they are used, particularly by criminals,” she said.
Given the recent volatility in the cryptocurrency market, May said “I think it’s something we do need to take a look at.”
“The amount of observed Bitcoin laundering [is] small and darknet marketplaces such as Silk Road and, later, AlphaBay are [generally] the source of almost all of the illicit Bitcoins laundered through conversion services.”
May also reiterated that investors should put pressure on technology giants to respond more quickly to extremist content on social networks, a cause she has spoken out about publicly since the the Manchester arena bombing.
Social networks must stop providing a platform for terror, extremism and child abuse, she said, according to the BBC.
Such content ought to be “removed automatically”, May added.
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Finally, she joined President Trump for a press conference where the president reaffirmed the “special relationship” between the US and the UK.
May added that they’d be working on a trade deal in the future to “both our benefits.” Trump promised that the trade “is going to increase many times.”
“The discussions that are taking place is going to lead to tremendous increases in trade between our two countries which is great for both in terms of jobs.”
Tomorrow is the final day of the Forum, which, thanks to a disruptive snowstorm, produced some memorable images that will no doubt live on for months, if not years…
Trump later tweeted his satisfaction with the meeting…
Great bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May of the United Kingdom, affirming the special relationship and our commitment to work together on key national security challenges and economic opportunities. #WEF18pic.twitter.com/FPP8aRDAyt