Theresa May tries to woo lapsed Labour supporters

Prime minister seeks support from centre-ground voters for her Brexit deal

British prime minister Theresa May:  appealed to wavering voters to ‘look at my government afresh’ in an article in the ‘Observer’. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

British prime minister Theresa May: appealed to wavering voters to ‘look at my government afresh’ in an article in the ‘Observer’. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

 

British prime Minister Theresa May appealed to wavering British voters on Sunday ahead of a defining few months in which she hopes to secure a Brexit deal.

Ms May must find a way through deadlocked talks in Brussels and then convince a sceptical parliament to back the outcome. On Sunday she launched an unusual plea for the backing of centre-ground voters who had previously backed the Labour Party but felt alienated by a shift to the left under current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

“I want voters who may previously have thought of themselves as Labour supporters to look at my government afresh. They will find a decent, moderate and patriotic programme that is worthy of their support,” Ms May wrote in an article for the Observer newspaper.

After a speech at her annual conference which polls showed was well received, Ms May sought to reinforce her message that the end of over eight years of austerity was in sight, and that she was capable of delivering reform beyond Brexit.

Labour called her message on austerity a con and said she was making “desperate pleas in an attempt to revive her failing administration”.

It looks increasingly likely Ms May will have to rely on the support of so-called “moderate” Labour MPs to win parliamentary approval for whatever Brexit deal she is able to strike with the EU.

Second public vote

On Sunday, Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon said her 35 MPs would likely vote against the deal, and could instead support a second public vote on the terms of Britain’s EU exit.

Labour’s leadership has promised to vote against Ms May’s deal unless it meets their tests – which it currently is unlikely to do.

The 10 votes of the Democratic Unionist Party, which May relies on to prop up her minority government, are also in doubt, depending on what kind of compromise Ms May has to strike in Brussels to resolve issues over the Irish Border.

Critics within Ms May’s own party, among them former foreign minister Boris Johnson, want her to ditch the current Brexit plan. However, the Sunday Telegraph reported that a sizeable eurosceptic faction could be willing to drop some of their objections to secure a deal.

If Ms May fails to win a vote in parliament, Britain faces an unmanaged exit from the bloc, which businesses and economists fear could badly damage the economy.

Contingency plans

Inga Beale, the outgoing chief executive of insurance market Lloyd’s of London, said her firm was accelerating Brexit contingency plans to transfer contracts to a Brussels subsidiary as she feel Britain is getting closer to leaving the EU without a deal.

Meanwhile, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe has said his country would welcome Britain to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal “with open arms”.

Speaking in an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Abe said the UK would lose its role as a gateway to Europe after Brexit, but would still be a country “equipped with global strength”.

His remarks will encourage Brexit supporters in the UK who see new opportunities for free trade outside the EU while turning up the pressure on Brussels and London to strike a timely exit deal.

– Reuters/FT

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