Brexit: Theresa May on a Great National Mission
Theresa May focussed on Brexit on Thursday during a speech in the North East as part of her election campaign. For her, making Brexit a success is a “great national mission” so that the country remains united under shared values, interests and aspirations. 12 months ago, the British people voted to leave the EU and, in a week, they will have the opportunity, one more time, to confirm that decision by voting for May, the PM said.
Brexit speech: Key points
May’s strong position on Brexit is now unquestionable and is what sets her apart from Corbyn’s softer and "weaker" perspective.
• In her speech, she stressed how she respects the referendum result and the British people’s choice: they did so with their eyes open. They knew that it would not be straightforward. They knew the road ahead may be uncertain. But they believed that it would lead towards a brighter future for their children – and their grandchildren too. So with determination and characteristically British quiet resolve, they defied the establishment, ignored the threats and made their voice heard. I respect that decision and am clear about what needs to be done. It is time to act on their instruction. To deliver their will.”
• Brexit is an opportunity: she described that it is possible to build a Britain “beyond Brexit that is stronger, fairer and more prosperous than it is today. A Britain beyond Brexit that is more global and outward-looking.” She said that “If we get Brexit right, we can be a confident, self-governing country once again. A country that takes the decisions that matter to Britain here in Britain.”
• New trade deals: She was optimistic about an “ambitious free trade agreement between the UK and the European Union,” and said that discussions are already under way with Australia, New Zealand and India.
• Skills Training: The new government will invest in a “new generation of Institutes of Technology in every major city in England—important new institutions providing sought-after skills for local, regional and national industry.”
• NHS: As an institution, the NHS “binds us all together” so May will be “increasing spending by a minimum of £8b in real terms over the next five years.”
• Britain will be a great meritocracy: She talked about grammar schools and transforming education. While grammar schools used to be a choice for the wealthier, May wants to change this by making them accessible to more people.
• Strong economy: May emphasised an economy based on “sound money and responsible economic management,” which can only be supported by a government that understands good management so that it can help investment strengthen and businesses grow.
• Corbyn is “not up to the job”: She said that Corbyn “doesn’t believe in Britain,” “doesn’t have a plan,” and “doesn’t have what it takes.”
May gave her speech in a controlled manner that didn’t give the opportunity to journalists to press her on further issues. She refused to say whether she watched the debate last night but she did praise Amber Rudd twice for doing an excellent job. When she was asked whether she would make Amber Rudd her chancellor, her laughter insinuated that the answer was possibly, yes.
Corbyn gave a speech in Basildon. He talked about the Tories being “weak and wobbly” and how they cannot follow their manifesto commitments. He said that he doesn’t like personal attacks, but reminded people that Labour hasn’t lied to the British people “about spending an extra £350m a week on the NHS because of Brexit, and nobody who has promised to use Brexit to slash workers’ rights or slash tax for big corporations in a continental race to the bottom.”
He presented Labour’s approach to Brexit and a deal that can “allow us to upgrade our economy through public investment in infrastructure and high skilled jobs. A deal that will make Britain a centre for science, technology and research, attracting the brightest and best from around the country and the world, through strategic investment.
A deal that allows us to transform Britain into a country with the strongest rights and protections, and ends exploitation and undercutting in the labour market. A deal that allows us to become a country that values and protects its public services and invests in its communities.
And a deal that will allow Britain to be a safe and outward looking country, strengthening friendships and working with allies to create a better future for our country, continent and our planet.” Corbyn confirmed that he wouldn’t delay Brexit and that he wants to resolve the EU nationals’ position fast.
He added that Labour is for investment and better services, for high wages and skills.
In a more playful manner, when asked about his Labour critics and whether he would resolve their disagreements by giving them a group hug, Corbyn replied: “I do a lot of group hugs with lots of people. I love a group hug me.”
Both speeches couldn’t be more different. The style and tone were totally the opposite, offering people the choice between two clear alternatives. Who are you going to vote on 8 June?