By Jenny Gross

LONDON -- British Prime Minister Theresa May plans to use a Monday speech to position the U.K. as a pioneer in responding to the backlash against international trade, drawing a distinction between her view on free trade and that of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.

Less than a week after Mr. Trump was elected on the back of attacks against political insiders and with pledges to renegotiate free-trade deals that he blames for economic ills, Mrs. May plans to emphasize the U.K.'s opportunity to be a leader for other countries as it exits the European Union. According to excerpts of the speech from her office, she will urge the U.K. to be a champion of free trade while supporting families and communities that can lose out to it.

The planned speech underscores the differences between her and Mr. Trump on trade. While Mrs. May has repeatedly said the U.K. will continue to be one of the strongest advocates for international trade as it leaves the EU, Mr. Trump has blamed free-trade agreements for rising inequality and job losses in the U.S.

"As we leave the European Union, we will also use the strength and size of our economy to lead the way in getting out into the world and doing new business with old allies and new partners alike," she will say, according to excerpts. She will say that the government will be "unashamedly pro-business" and promote free markets but that it would rebalance the economy to reduce inequalities across the country.

In both Britain's EU referendum in June and the U.S. election, voters in the U.K. and the U.S. appeared to reject free trade and open markets, in a sign that they believe global economic integration has gone too far.

Mrs. May, who came to office in July, will have to strike a difficult balance in sending governments and companies around the world the message that the U.K. is open for business while responding to concerns at home about rising immigration and the effects of globalization.

Mrs. May has suggested that in coming negotiations with the 27 other EU member states she will prioritize controlling immigration over retaining membership in the EU's single trading market. But she has said that she wants maximum access to trade with EU states, which other leaders have said the U.K. can't have if it doesn't keep its borders open to migrants from the bloc.

Write to Jenny Gross at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 13, 2016 20:12 ET (01:12 GMT)

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