On eve of election, May putting focus back on Brexit

Theresa May wants to seal a decisive victory in the election to strengthen her hand in the Brexit...
On Wednesday, the eve of the vote, Theresa May tried to bring the campaign back to Brexit after recently focusing on terrorism and national security. Photo: Reuters

On the eve of an election Prime Minister Theresa May returned to her core message that only she can deliver a good Brexit deal, moving on from a heated national debate over security after two deadly Islamist attacks.

May unexpectedly called the snap vote seven weeks ago, seeking to increase her working parliamentary majority of 17 seats ahead of the start of negotiations on leaving the European Union.

But the campaign has seen unexpected twists - the shrinking of May's poll lead over the opposition Labour Party from over 20 points to a range between one and 12 points, and attacks in Manchester and London that killed 30 people.

Pollsters still expect May's Conservatives to win, although talk of a landslide majority of more than 100 seats has faded. The latest poll, by ICM for the Guardian, put her party on 46% and Labour on 34.

The polls started narrowing after May launched a new policy on care for the elderly that proved unpopular. She backtracked days later, prompting opposition parties to pour scorn on her claim to offer "strong and stable leadership".

Then came a suicide bombing at a pop concert in Manchester on May 22 that killed 22 children and adults, and a van and knife attack on London Bridge and in nearby Borough Market that killed eight people on June 3, five days before the election.

The attacks threw the campaign spotlight onto security and prompted questions from May's opponents and media about her record overseeing cuts in police numbers during her years as interior minister from 2010 to 2016.

But the security issue was not seen as helpful to her main rival, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has voted against counter-terrorism legislation and expressed reservations in the past about police shoot-to-kill tactics.

Corbyn set out a different approach to May, he was emphatic that he would leave the bloc with a...
Corbyn, a veteran left-winger who unexpectedly won the Labour leadership in 2015 after three decades on the party fringe, has hit back that Conservative fiscal austerity has hurt the poor. Photo: Reuters

MAY VS CORBYN

On Wednesday, the eve of the vote, May tried to bring the campaign back to Brexit.

"When it comes to the election tomorrow, I think the choices and the questions that people need to ask are exactly the same today as they were right at the beginning of the campaign," she told a campaign rally in Norwich, eastern England.

"And the first is a question of who do you trust to actually have the strong and stable leadership that is going to deliver the best deal for Britain in Europe."

May has sought to portray Corbyn as the weak leader of a spendthrift party which would crash Britain's $2.5 trillion economy and lead the country to ruin in chaotic Brexit negotiations.

Corbyn, a veteran left-winger who unexpectedly won the Labour leadership in 2015 after three decades on the party fringe, has hit back that Conservative fiscal austerity has hurt the poor and increased social inequalities.

Labour propose to build a fairer society through policies such as increasing tax for the richest 5%, boosting workers' rights, scrapping university tuition fees and investing 250 billion pounds in infrastructure.

"The choice is quite simple. Five more years of a Tory government, five more years of austerity, five more years of cuts. Or something different," Corbyn told supporters in Colwyn Bay, north Wales, to cheers and applause.

For May, the challenge is not only to win but to surpass handsomely the 12-seat majority her Conservative predecessor David Cameron won in 2015.

A narrow victory would undermine her authority both inside her party and at talks with the 27 other EU leaders.

Add a Comment

 

september_carousel_header.jpg

september_carousel_footer.jpg