Theresa May tries to re-focus the election campaign on Brexit negotiations

Gwen Vasquez
June 3, 2017

May had refused a direct debate with her opposite number in Labour.

Top UK Jewish officials have expressed concern over a Sunday Times report that Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn took part in an event at a Tunisian cemetery in 2014 during which a dead Palestinian terrorist linked to the 1972 Munich massacre was honored.

Mrs May also repeated her "no deal is better than a bad deal" slogan when asked if she was prepared to walk away from Brexit talks.

Mr Corbyn was challenged by an audience member who claimed the Labour leader had "openly supported the IRA in the past" by attending a commemoration for eight IRA members killed by the SAS in Loughgall.

It was put to her by interviewer Jeremy Paxman that U-turns on National Insurance rises, a social care cap, and an early election would lead European Union negotiators to conclude that she was a "blowhard who collapses at the first sign of gunfire".

Mrs May said that when she arrived at Number 10 she felt the most important thing was to maintain "stability" in order to get on with the Brexit negotiations but that she had found that other parties such as the SNP and the Liberal Democrats wanted to "frustrate" the process.

Paxman, at one stage, called May a "blowhard" and said that her changes in policy would mean that some in Brussels would see her as a soft touch in negotiations.

The veteran newsman also took the prime minister to task over her u-turns on National Insurance rises and an early election.

She will hope to put Brexit back on the agenda after the wobbles over social care hampered her campaign in the last week and will say that only she will be able to stand up to Brussels to get the best negotiating position.

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Mr Corbyn, a committed republican, was asked by Jeremy Paxman on why abolishing the Monarchy was not in Labour's manifesto.

After the dementia tax stumble, Mrs May's strategists - including Australian Sir Lynton Crosby - have determined she should reset her campaign to focus on Brexit.

Asked how much she was willing to pay to get out of the European Union, however, the prime minister made clear that she accepted that the United Kingdom would have to make a financial settlement as it leaves the bloc. So the central question in this election is: "who has the will - and crucially the plan - to make a success of Brexit so that we can build the stronger, fairer, more prosperous Britain we want and need?" she will say.

In the "debate", Mr Corbyn faced several questions on his past as a radical leftist politician - and was tested on whether as a pacifist prime minister he would be up to defending the nation.

"It is a hypothetical question", he said.

Mr Corbyn defended his description of the Palestinian group Hamas as "friends" and his comment that the killing of Osama bin Laden by USA special forces had been a "tragedy".

A small business owner attacked Mr Corbyn's "ruthless short-sighted policies" such as increasing corporation tax and putting VAT on private school fees.

At one point he looked up the figure on his iPad and said "can we come back to this in a moment?" in an interview with the BBC's Woman's Hour programme. Not only did May's decision force Labour's warring sides to come together to fight a common enemy, but it has forced broadcasters to give equal coverage to Corbyn's party under Ofcom election rules.

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