Sunday 23 July 2017

Theresa May accuses 'some in Brussels' of trying to influence the British General Election

British Prime Minister Theresa May makes a statement in Downing Street, London, after visiting Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
British Prime Minister Theresa May makes a statement in Downing Street, London, after visiting Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

By David Hughes, Press Association Chief Political Correpondent

THERESA May has accused European politicians and officials of seeking to influence the result of the UK's General Election as the war of words over Brexit intensified.

The Prime Minister used a Downing Street statement to claim that the UK's position had been misrepresented and the European Commission's position had hardened.

"The events of the last few days have shown that whatever our wishes and however reasonable the positions of Europe's other leaders, there are some in Brussels who do not want these talks to succeed, who do not want Britain to prosper," she said.

In a statement after meeting the Queen to mark the dissolution of Parliament, Mrs May said the victor of the June 8 election would face "one overriding task", getting the "best possible deal" for the UK.

"In the last few days we have seen just how tough these talks are likely to be," she said.

"Britain's negotiating position in Europe has been misrepresented in the continental press. The European Commission's negotiating stance has hardened.

"Threats against Britain have been issued by European politicians and officials.

"All of these acts have been deliberately timed to affect the result of the General Election that will take place on June 8."

Mrs May warned of "serious consequences" if Brexit negotiations went wrong.

She said: "If we do not get this right, the consequences will be serious and they will be felt by ordinary working people across the country.

"This Brexit negotiation is central to everything.

"If we don't get the negotiation right, your economic security and prosperity will be put at risk and the opportunities you seek for your families will simply not happen.

"If we do not stand up and get this negotiation right we risk the secure and well-paid jobs we want for our children and our children's children too.

"If we don't get the negotiation right, if we let the bureaucrats of Brussels run over us, we will lose the chance to build a fairer society with real opportunity for all."

Mrs May said voters faced a "very simple" choice on June 8 between her and Jeremy Corbyn.

"With me you will get strong and stable leadership and an approach to Brexit that locks in economic growth, jobs for our children and strong finances for the NHS and the country's schools," she said.

"Or you will get Jeremy Corbyn with a hung parliament and a coalition of chaos.

"Britain will simply not get the right Brexit deal if we have the drift and division of a hung parliament.

"So, with Jeremy Corbyn negotiating Brexit, we will all pay a high price."

Mrs May said that the election was not only about Brexit, but also about building a stronger and fairer economy and protecting the UK against attacks from extremists and efforts by separatists to tear it apart.

"As we face this critical time for our country - five years that will determine the course of the United Kingdom for generations to come - we must do so together, with a unity of purpose to make a success of Brexit and to build a stronger, more secure country too," she said.

Mrs May said she would have a "clear message" in the election campaign.

"If like me you believe in Britain, if like me you want our country to succeed, if like me you believe in putting division behind us, in looking to the future and getting on with the job of building the stronger, more secure country that we need, then fix your sights on the future and in this unique and crucial election for our country, give me your backing to lead Britain.

"Give me your backing to speak for Britain, give me your backing to fight for Britain, give me your backing to deliver for Britain a stronger Britain where economic progress is secured and prosperity and opportunity is shared by all.

"A Britain that works not just for the privileged few but for every single one of us."

Mrs May said she had made clear to Brussels in her letter formally starting the Brexit process that "in leaving the European Union, Britain means no harm to our friends and allies on the continent".

"We continue to believe that no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal, but we want a deal," she said.

"We want a deep and special partnership with the EU and we want the EU to succeed."

Leaks from a Downing Street dinner in which Mrs May hosted European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier have revealed the tensions between the two sides.

Mr Juncker reportedly left saying he was "10 times more sceptical" about the prospect of a deal.

Mrs May said the events of recent days showed "now more than ever we need to be led by a prime minister and a government that is strong and stable".

"Because making Brexit a success is central to our national interest and central to your own security and prosperity," she told voters.

"If we do not get this right, the consequences will be serious."

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