Theresa May aims to woo Labour voters with Brexit strength pitch
The PM said Jeremy Corbyn would be too weak a leader to face down the EU.
Theresa May claimed German chancellor Angela Merkel’s tough stance on Brexit shows Jeremy Corbyn is too “weak” to lead EU divorce talks.
The Prime Minister used a campaign visit to Leeds to urge Labour supporters to “lend” her their votes so Britain could have the “strongest possible hand” in the up-coming negotiations.
Mrs May said every vote for the Tories would improve her position when facing European leaders in the “tough” talks ahead as she insisted the Labour leader would not be up to the task of fighting Britain’s corner.
The comments came after German leader Mrs Merkel used a speech in the Bundestag to say the UK has “illusions” about the realities of Brexit, insisting there was no way it could continue to enjoy the same rights it had as a member of the EU.
She also insisted the divorce from Brussels, including a bill of up to £50 billion, would need to be agreed before talks on the future relationship between the UK and EU could commence.
Mrs May said: “We have seen from Chancellor Merkel today, we have heard her comments today, we have seen that, actually, there will be times when these negotiations are going to get tough. Yet, our opponents are already trying to disrupt them. At the same time as 27 other European countries are lining up to oppose us.”
Mrs May said the only people who could be Prime Minister after the election were herself or Mr Corbyn, adding: “Only two people who can possibly represent Britain in Europe.
“And the choice is between five years of strong and stable leadership with me as Prime Minister, or the coalition of chaos with Jeremy Corbyn at the helm, a weak leader negotiating Brexit.”
The PM also used the event to accuse Mr Corbyn of “failing to stand-up for the defence of our country.”
Mrs May sought to exploit divisions within Labour over its leadership by telling voters: “I know this city is one of the places that people call a ‘traditional Labour area’, but here, and in every constituency across the country, it may say Labour on the ballot, but it’s Jeremy Corbyn that gets the vote.”
She added: “That is why in this election, the most important election this country has faced in my lifetime, every single vote counts.
“Because this election is not about who you may have voted for in the past. It is about voting in the national interest. Voting for the future. And every vote cast for me through my local Conservative candidates in cities like Leeds, and in towns and cities across the UK, will strengthen my hand when I negotiate with the prime ministers, presidents and chancellors of Europe in the months ahead.”
Labour’s national elections chairman Andrew Gwynne said: “Theresa May is going to extraordinary lengths to blinker the British public and make this election about anything other than her record in government.
“The people of Leeds won’t be fooled: the only party of working people is the Labour Party.”