When British Prime Minister Theresa May was asked whether she was ‘frightened’ to debate with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, her answer was evasive and hostile.
“Jeremy Corbyn seems to be paying far more attention to how many appearances on television he’s doing. He ought to be paying a little more attention to thinking about Brexit negotiations. That’s what I’m doing, to make sure we get the best possible deal for Britain,” May said.
Much can be read into that reply. The first is the strangeness of the answer. May is accusing her opposition of campaigning for the general election she called for, rather than focusing on Brexit which she doesn’t want him to have anything to with anyway.
The second point is no matter how much the conversation changes around her, she will drag Brexit back to the central theme.
The election was called the Brexit election and May has based her entire campaign on her ability to negotiate a good deal. As reported by News of the European Union, the Brexit negotiations will start on June 19 and just over a week after the election result, May’s message is simple. If you don’t vote for me, the whole negotiation goes up in smoke.
She knows that in order to get the majority she needs to navigate the upcoming discussions without interference, from opposition parties or her own, she will need the vote of the working class. May’s tough stance of “no deal is better than a bad deal” is a clear attempt to woo the working class and voters angling for a hard Brexit. She is gambling that they put Brexit first in this election.
Yet as she might try to keep the nation on point, the election is slowly and surely slipping from her control. Her party’s manifesto policies outside of Brexit have been a disaster, full of U-turns and blunders that have been easily picked apart by her opponents.
Due to the poor campaigning the Conservative Party lead of 23 points dropped to 5 points, according to some polls. The Belfast Telegraph reportied that some predictions are even worse, with a recent seat-by-seat by YouGov and The Times suggested Britain could become a hung parliament with the Conservatives losing their majority.
This marks a complete turnaround to the beginning of the election where the Conservatives had a clear lead. Some electoral sites such as Betfair, who made a list of the 50 exciting constituencies still believe that the Conservatives are going to make a lot of gains in Labour seats. One example they give is Dagenham & Rainham where 70% voted to leave the EU. May will be hoping that those who voted out of the EU will carry their votes into the election and vote for her vision of Brexit.
Yet Brexit is no longer the top issue in the election despite May’s attempts. Instead it must share the platform with domestic issues such as social care and inequality where the Conservatives have been shown to be weak.
Nine days after the election the Brexit negotiations start for real. Theresa May could be about to start them in a worse position than she started if her Brexit message falls on deaf ears.
Written by Max Hayward