May, Cor­byn set out op­pos­ing EU stance in TV grilling

New Straits Times - - World -

Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May and Labour leader Jeremy Cor­byn took di­verg­ing tacks over Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions on Mon­day as they faced a live tele­vised grilling ahead of a gen­eral elec­tion next month.

Ten days be­fore the snap polls on June 8, the two ri­vals sep­a­rately faced wide-rang­ing ques­tions from the pub­lic be­fore in­ter­ro­ga­tions by vet­eran bull­dog broad­caster Jeremy Pax­man.

May de­clined a face-to-face de­bate with Cor­byn, whose op­po­si­tion party has in re­cent days nar­rowed the gap in opin­ion polls, though the rul­ing Con­ser­va­tives re­main in front.

While Cor­byn in­sisted he would “make sure there’s a deal” with the Euro­pean Union be­fore Bri­tain leaves the bloc, May said she was “pre­pared to walk out”.

“No deal is bet­ter than a bad deal,” the 60-yearold May re­peat­edly said in the Sky News/Chan­nel 4

broad­cast.

“We have to be pre­pared to walk out,” May said, not­ing that some peo­ple in Europe were “talk­ing about pun­ish­ing us”.

Cor­byn, 68, said the “re­al­ity” of last year’s Brexit ref­er­en­dum re­sult had to be re­spected and in­sisted: “We will make sure there’s a deal.”

“We won’t start the ne­go­ti­a­tions with mega­phone diplo­macy, threat­en­ing Europe with some kind of off­shore tax haven on the shores of Europe,” he said in a dig at May’s ef­forts to han­dle Brexit.

Both can­di­dates sup­ported stay­ing in the EU be­fore the ref­er­en­dum held last June, which saw 52 per cent of vot­ers opt to leave the bloc.

For­mal talks on Bri­tain’s with­drawal are due to start on June 19, just 11 days af­ter the gen­eral elec­tion.

Se­cu­rity was also high on the agenda on Mon­day, in the wake of the Manch­ester sui­cide bomb­ing a week ago that saw 22 peo­ple killed and led to brief sus­pen­sion in po­lit­i­cal cam­paign­ing.

May, who was at times heck­led by the au­di­ence dur­ing the tele­vised ques­tion­ing, was asked by a serv­ing po­lice­man about “dev­as­tat­ing” cuts to police num­bers dur­ing her six-year ten­ure as in­te­rior min­is­ter.

She said the govern­ment had had to en­sure Bri­tain was “liv­ing within our means” given “the eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion we had in­her­ited”.

She said bud­gets were be­ing pro­tected for coun­tert­er­ror­ism forces and polic­ing.

Cor­byn was grilled over his con­tro­ver­sial re­la­tion­ship with the Ir­ish Repub­li­can Army, nu­clear de­ter­rence and whether he would abol­ish the monar­chy, given his repub­li­can stance.

“It’s not on any­body’s agenda. It’s cer­tainly not on my agenda and, do you know what, I had a very nice chat with the Queen,” he said.

Jeremy Cor­byn

Theresa May

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