Theresa May has taken her election message deep into enemy territory, calling on Labour supporters to “lend” her their votes if they want to see Brexit succeed.
The Prime Minister used comments by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who warned the UK has “illusions” it will get the same terms after Brexit, to warn against allowing opposition parties to further disrupt “tough” negotiations with the EU.
Mrs Merkel earlier insisted talks on the UK’s divorce bill from the European Union must be dealt with before negotiations on any trade deal can begin. EU leaders are due to meet on Saturday to discuss their stance on Brexit negotiations.
Speaking in the Bundestag, Mrs Merkel was cheered as she struck a firm tone about Germany’s approach.
Mrs Merkel stressed that a “third country” - as the UK would be after Brexit - could not enjoy the same rights as a member of the EU.
She said she had the “feeling that some in Great Britain still have illusions” about Brexit and “that is a waste of time”.
Responding to the warning from Berlin, Mrs May said: “We have seen Chancellor Merkel’s comments today. She says the UK has “illusions” about the process and that the 27 member states of the European Union agree. We can see how tough those negotiations are going to be at times”
“Yet our opponents are already seeking to disrupt those negotiations – at the same time as 27 other European countries line up to oppose us.”
Speaking in Leeds, a Labour stronghold where the Tories hope to gain ground, she claimed “everyone in our country has a positive reason to lend me their vote” because of the upcoming talks.
Renewing her personal attack on Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, she said: “I know this city is one of the places that people call a ‘traditional Labour area’. But here – and in every constituency across the country – it may say Labour on the ballot, but it’s Jeremy Corbyn that gets the vote.”