Election 2017

General election 2017: May says she won't duck challenges

Theresa May campaigning in Northumberland Image copyright PA

Theresa May has said the Conservative manifesto will "not duck" the challenges ahead from Brexit and the "trade-offs" that may be required.

Speaking in Tyne and Wear, she said a vote for any other party was "too big a risk to take" as she appealed to Labour voters to put faith in her leadership.

Voters faced a "stark choice" between a prime minister who was "fixed on the future" and a backward-looking Labour.

Jeremy Corbyn has argued his party's plans will be "very popular".

Speaking in Tynemouth, Mrs May said Labour has "deserted" working-class voters and, urging people to put tribal loyalties aside, said what was important was not how people had voted in the past but what mattered in the future as a result of the changed political landscape.

She suggested the UK's future prosperity hinged on making a success of the UK's exit from the EU and electing a Labour government would jeopardise that.

"The success our country depends on getting the next five years right," she said, promising answers in the party manifesto - expected to be published next week - to the major questions facing the UK.

She said Labour's manifesto proposals, a draft of which were leaked on Wednesday, did not add up, and Mr Corbyn was incapable of delivering them.

'Deserted'

She highlighted Conservative policies to cap energy bills, protect workplace pensions and improve mental health provision as proof of her desire to "reach out to all those who have been abandoned by Labour and let down by government for too long".


Analysis: By BBC Politcal Editor Laura Kuenssberg

Image copyright PA
Image caption Mrs May visits a haulage depot in Darlington

Long-held Labour values die hard. And with sluggish wages, public sector cuts, pressure on housing, inflation, there is a long list of reasons, on top of historic loyalties, why many voters, whether here or in other traditional Labour areas, will simply never switch.

There is a long way to go.

Jeremy Corbyn's allies believe the gap in the polls will narrow.

But privately many senior Tories are hopeful of a bigger prize in this election than a majority.

Read Laura's full blog


"Proud and patriotic working-class people in towns and cities across Britain have not deserted the Labour Party - Jeremy Corbyn has deserted them," she said.

"We respect that parents and grandparents taught their children and grandchildren that Labour was a party that shared their values and stood up for their community. But across the country today, traditional Labour supporters are increasingly looking at what Jeremy Corbyn believes in and are appalled."

She dismissed Labour's call for the rail network to be nationalised, one of the party's flagship policies, saying she was "old enough to remember the days of British Rail" and suggested that privatisation had "enhanced" services and been "good news for customers".

'For the many'

The leaked draft of Labour's manifesto contains policies on nationalising railways, renewing Trident weapons, abolishing university tuition fees and scrapping the public sector pay cap.

Speaking after his party unanimously approved the final version, which will be officially unveiled next week, Mr Corbyn said it would be "an offer that will transform the lives of many people in our society and ensure that we have a government in Britain on 8 June that will work for the many, not the few".

A ComRes survey for the Daily Mirror published on Friday suggests Labour's general election pledges, such as the nationalisation of rail and postal services, are more popular among voters than Mr Corbyn himself.

Theresa May is targeting Labour seats in the north of England which voted Leave in last year's EU referendum. She has accused EU officials of trying to interfere in the election after details of a Downing Street dinner appeared in a German newspaper last month.

Brexit Secretary David Davis told the Daily Telegraph on Friday that he believed European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and his aides - reported to have been behind the leaks - had "learnt their lesson".

"He is not going to be meddling in British politics any more - or at least if he does he will get the same reaction.

"All these stories are briefing against me, trying to get me sacked - which, of course, is a compliment by the way," he said.

Get news from the BBC in your inbox, each weekday morning

More on this story