LONDON (AFP) – British Prime Minister Theresa May and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn clashed over Brexit, the economy and security Wednesday in their final parliamentary exchange before June’s general election.
In a raucous session of prime minister’s questions in the House of Commons, the two leaders eyeballed each other while outlining competing visions as MPs behind them cheered and jeered.
May repeated her campaign mantra that only she can provide “strong and stable leadership” to guide Britain through its potentially tortuous exit from the European Union, and said her rival was “not fit to run this country”.
But Labour leader Corbyn went on the offensive over the government’s record on austerity and public services, saying May’s Conservatives “only look after the richest”.
May called the snap vote for June 8 to seek a mandate for Brexit and is expecting to win an increased Commons majority for her party.
The prime minister, however, has ruled out a television debate during the campaign, making Wednesday the last time she will go head-to-head against Corbyn before voters make their choice.
“Every vote for him is a vote for a chaotic Brexit. Every vote for me is a vote to strengthen our hand in negotiating the best deal for Britain,” she said.
Labour trail the Conservatives by more than 20 points in opinion polls, and the party is also divided over Corbyn’s left-wing leadership and strategy on Brexit.
“Even his supporters know he’s not fit to run this country,” May said, accusing him of uncosted spending plans and saying he was weak on defence.
Corbyn has pitched himself as the anti-establishment candidate and attacked the government’s record on the funding of schools and hospitals, as well as citing housing shortages and wage stagnation.
He said many Britons were “held back” by the government and “many people feel the system is rigged against them”.
“Strong leadership is about standing up for the many, not the few. But when it comes to the prime minister and the Conservatives they only look after the richest, not the rest,” he said.