Insults Fly as May and Corbyn Face Off for the Last Time Before Election

  • May insists election necessary to strengthen her Brexit hand
  • Corbyn focuses on income inequality, health and education

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May and opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn clashed in Parliament for the last time before the June 8 election on Wednesday, rehearsing their lines of attack for the campaign.

May promised a “strong and stable” government as Britain negotiates its divorce from the European Union while Corbyn accused her of looking after the rich at the expense of the poor. The Labour leader said the Tory government is cutting funding for schools, hospitals and pensions, a claim she batted back with warnings about his plans for the economy.

Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street, April 26.

Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

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“Every vote for him is a vote for a chaotic Brexit, every vote for me is to strengthen our hand in getting the best deal for Britain,” May told lawmakers.

Brexit is the issue voters cannot escape, less than a year after they decided to part ways with the EU. With divorce talks poised to start, May argues she needed to call a snap election to empower her to negotiate a better deal. Critics, including those who regret the outcome of the referendum, accuse her of exploiting Brexit and Corbyn’s unpopularity to make a power grab.

May, who is seeking to increase her majority by winning seats held by Labour, defended the record of Tory-led governments since 2010 and claimed her opponents failed working people during their 13 years in office after 1997.

She returned to her theme of a “coalition of chaos” under Corbyn and lampooned division in his party. Corbyn read a series of questions from voters -- one from a young school teacher, another from an 88-year-old pensioner -- to highlight cuts and declining living standards under the Tories.

“Strong leadership is about standing up for the many, not the few -- the prime minister and Conservatives only look after the richest, not the rest,” Corbyn said. “They’re strong against the weak and weak against the strong.”

May was asked again why she has refused to take part in television debates. She answered that she will instead be traveling around the country and that her weekly exchanges with Corbyn in the House of Commons had provided ample opportunity to see the two in action.

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