PM May accuses EU of meddling in election
Theresa May put the Brexit battle at the heart of the election campaign with an explosive claim that European politicians and officials were seeking to meddle in the outcome of the June 8 contest.
The Prime Minister claimed that "threats" had been issued against the UK and Brussels' position had hardened in acts "deliberately timed" to influence the General Election.
Mrs May said recent events showed why she should be returned to Number 10 in order to lead the crucial Brexit talks.
"Making Brexit a success is central to our national interest and central to your own security and prosperity," she told voters.
"If we do not get this right, the consequences will be serious."
The comments drew a furious response from political rivals.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Mrs May was "playing party games with Brexit" and "winding up the public confrontation with Brussels" in an attempt to distract from Tory economic failures.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon accused the PM of trying to "poison the atmosphere for partisan reasons" in a "deeply irresponsible" move.
Mrs May's speech came after she returned from an audience with the Queen at Buckingham Palace to mark the dissolution of Parliament.
It follows leaks from a Downing Street dinner last week attended by European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier which revealed the tensions between the two sides.
The Prime Minister said: "In the last few days we have seen just how tough these talks are likely to be.
"Britain's negotiating position in Europe has been misrepresented in the continental press. The European Commission's negotiating stance has hardened.
"Threats against Britain have been issued by European politicians and officials. All of these acts have been deliberately timed to affect the result of the General Election."
She said the events had shown that "there are some in Brussels who do not want these talks to succeed" so "now more than ever we need to be led by a prime minister and a government that is strong and stable".