Theresa May insisted yesterday that she is “taking nothing for granted” following emphatic local election victories which have sparked predictions she is heading for a landslide in the 8 June general election.
The Prime Minister’s comment came as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn acknowledged he faces “a challenge on a historic scale” to turn round polling figures which suggest he is headed for defeat.
I’m taking nothing for granted. I need support from across the United Kingdom
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said that last week’s elections showed Labour was “finished” as a viable opposition to a Conservative Party which was heading for a landslide majority larger than those enjoyed by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s.
Speaking during a campaign visit to Wolverhampton yesterday, where the Tories won the contest for West Midlands metro mayor, May said: “I’m very grateful for the support that we received in the local elections... but the question people now face in the general election is: Who should lead the country for the next five years – me or Jeremy Corbyn?
“Not a single vote has been cast in that election yet, and none of the votes cast yesterday will count on 8 June in the general election.
“In the minds of European politicians there isn’t a mandate to take into the Brexit negotiations.
“I’m taking nothing for granted over the next five weeks. I need support from across the United Kingdom to strengthen my hand, and only a vote for me and my team will ensure that Britain has the strong and stable leadership we need in order to ensure we get the best deal for Britain from Brexit.”
Addressing supporters in Leicester, Corbyn acknowledged the results – which saw Labour shed 320 councillors and lose control of seven authorities, including Glasgow, were “disappointing”, but insisted that “the gap between us and the Tories is not as great as the pundits have been saying”.
He called on supporters to “seize the moment” by campaigning hard over the next five weeks to transform the party’s prospects.
He said that if Labour won, there would be “a reckoning” with big businesses and bankers who had stripped industrial assets, crashed the economy and ripped off consumers and workers.
“This election could be a great and proud moment in our national story,” said Corbyn.
“Don’t wake on up on 9 June to see celebrations from the tax cheats, the press barons, the greedy bankers, Philip Green, the Southern Rail directors and crooked bankers that take our wealth, who have got away with it because the party they own, the Conservative Party, has won.”
Speaking at the launch of a new Lib Dem policy to raise £6 billion for the NHS by putting a penny on all bands of income tax, Farron said last Thursday’s polls gave a “crystal clear” insight into what will happen next month.
“The local elections proved that the Labour Party is finished and the Conservative Party is heading for a landslide,” he said. “On top of that, the Liberal Democrats are left as the only opposition party making progress.”, with a 7 per cent increase in our vote share. There is only one opposition party left standing after Thursday – not just standing but growing – and that’s the Liberal Democrats.”
Last night a new opinion poll showed the Conservatives maintain a commanding lead ahead of the 8 June General Election, despite Theresa May’s personal popularity drifting downwards as the campaign progresses.
The survey by Opinium put May’s party on 46 per cent, one point down on the previous week, but still 16 points clear of Labour, unchanged on 30 per cent.
The survey of 2,005 adults carried out on 2 and 3 May found an increase in numbers of voters who disapprove of May’s performance as Prime Minister, up from 31 per cent to 33 per cent. The rise continued a trend which has seen her disapproval rating edge up from 27 per cent shortly before she called the snap election.
Results were widely seen as a vindication for May’s tough line on Brexit and decision for a snap election.