On Thursday, after informing the Queen that parliament was dissolved for the general election on 8 June, Theresa May delivered a combative speech outside Downing Street, calling voters to give her their “backing to fight for Britain.” She stressed that failure in Brexit negotiations could lead to the loss of Britain’s “economic security and prosperity.”

May attacked those circulating Brussels’ gossip and denied leaked newspaper reports that her meeting with Jean-Claude Juncker was a little bit sour. She accused European politicians for interfering in the UK’s general election and trying to turn Brexit into a failure. 

She said: “In the last few days, we have seen just how tough these talks are likely to be. 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 which will take place on 8 June.”

May emphasised that only by voting her party could the British manage to secure a painless and successful Brexit. Her antagonistic tone was said to be a way to satisfy Eurosceptic voters while responding to EU leaks that suggested she was unrealistic, delusional and unreasonable. But her critics accused her of acting like Donald Trump, instigating fights with EU leaders and acting irresponsibly.

UK-EU relations are strained

Her angry speech was seen as “irresponsible electioneering and mimicking Donald Trump in ‘winding up’ scraps with foreign leaders,” according to the Independent.

Her words revealed anger and disappointment in the way EU leaders are defending their hard stance, but this shouldn’t be surprising since their attitude hasn’t changed. Barnier, just yesterday, explained how the EU doesn’t want to punish the UK and that it doesn’t have a divorce bill ready to be paid, but, nonetheless, it would expect the UK to meet its commitments. However, May feels that threats against Britain by European politicians and officials are valid and are “deliberately timed to affect the result of the general election that will take place on 8 June.” In case we forgot the date, and in case we forgot that this is campaign season, May reminded us who are the bad guys and who we should vote if we want to be with the good guys. 

Unlike cruel European politicians, May said that the UK “means no harm” and wants the EU project to be a success.” The irony of saying she wants the EU to remain strong, while the UK is leaving the EU, is unbearable. 

Since the EU is bad and many in Brussels “do not want these talks to succeed … do not want Britain to prosper,” the best solution is to vote for May’s camp. She said: “So now more than ever we need to be led by a Prime Minister and a Government that is strong and stable.”

May was criticised by Jeremy Corbyn for using Brexit as “a political game” to win the election. Nick Clegg said: “Theresa May’s desperate, bizarre statement could have come word for word from Nigel Farage. The coalition of hard Brexit between the Conservatives and Ukip is now complete, and it will be hard-pressed families up and down the country who will suffer most.” Labour’s Chuka Umunna said that her words were “straight out of the Donald Trump playbook—not what we expect from a British Prime Minister.”

It is difficult times for a government to have to deal with Brexit and a general election, but perhaps the best thing for both the EU and UK politicians is to do what Dan Mulhall, Ireland’s ambassador to the UK recommended: “take a deep breath and calm down”.