Theresa May uses final campaign event to push her Brexit credentials

British leader appeals to ‘fiercely patriotic’ Labour voters to back Conservatives

Theresa May has used her final campaign event to frame Thursday's election as a choice about Brexit, claiming that she alone could ensure that leaving the European Union would be a success.

Flanked by members of her cabinet at a rally in Birmingham, the prime minister said Brexit was the basis for Britain’s future success.

“This election is not just about the next five years, it’s about setting this country on the right course for generations to come. The question is: who do you trust to have the strong and stable leadership to get the best deal for Britain in Europe? Because Brexit matters, it is the basis for everything else. Who do you believe has the will and, crucially, the plan, to just get on with the job and deliver Brexit and make a success of it?” she said.

‘Fiercely patriotic’

Earlier, she appealed directly to "fiercely patriotic" Labour voters to back the Conservatives for the first time and to abandon their old allegiances. Speaking in Norfolk during a whistle-stop tour of key constituencies in England, Ms May claimed that the Conservatives were on the people's side.


“I would say to those voters that I think many of them will be people, the sort of people I met when I stood for example in northwest Durham some years ago. People who are fiercely patriotic, who are very proud of their part of the country, who want to see good jobs for their children, who want their children to get a good quality of education, who want the public services to be there to support them when they need it,” she said.

“It’s the Conservative Party because we will build that strong economy that will see more jobs, that will see better paid jobs. We will be on people’s side.”

Personal standing

Most final polls point to a Conservative victory on Thursday but all agree that the prime minister’s personal standing with voters has tumbled dramatically.


Mori found that Ms May’s personal favourability rating is now the same as Jeremy Corbyn’s, as she has become less popular during the campaign and he has become more so.

In Norfolk on Wednesday she refused to predict the outcome of the election but said she had no regrets about the campaign she had fought.

“No, I’ve enjoyed the campaign. Obviously the two terrible terror attacks have been something that nobody wants to see taking place at any time, including during an election campaign. But outside of those I’ve enjoyed the campaign and I particularly enjoyed getting out and about meeting a whole range of different people across the country,” she said.

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton is China Correspondent of The Irish Times