Theresa May: Back my vision of brighter Brexit future

Updated: 

General Election 2017

Theresa May is urging voters to back her plans for Brexit amid further signs of trouble in her General Election campaign.

The Prime Minister, who was ridiculed by opponents after refusing to take part in a major TV debate on Tuesday night, will suggest there could be a "brighter future" for the UK if there is a good deal with the European Union.

Jeremy Corbyn, her opponent in the race for Number 10, will also be campaigning on Brexit, buoyed by an opinion poll which suggested the Tory lead had been reduced to just three points.

The YouGov poll for The Times put the Tories on 42%, down one point since the end of last week, with Labour up three on 39% and the Liberal Democrats down two points on 7% level with Ukip.

In a bid to return Brexit to the heart of the General Election campaign, Mrs May will use a high-profile speech in the North East on Thursday to set out her vision of European Union withdrawal as a stepping stone to a successful future.

"The brighter future we want for our country will not just happen," she will warn.

"This great national moment needs a great national effort in which we pull together with a unity of purpose and - however we voted in the referendum last June - we come together with a determination to make a success of the years ahead."

In London, Mr Corbyn will deliver a rival vision for Brexit, setting out how he will protect the economy, jobs and living standards in the negotiations with Brussels set to begin on June 19.

On Wednesday night Mr Corbyn took on Mrs May's stand-in Amber Rudd in a seven-way BBC election debate.

The Labour leader and other senior opposition leaders piled into Home Secretary Ms Rudd over the Government's record.

Mr Corbyn challenged Ms Rudd over the Tory record on tackling poverty but she hit back by claiming he was treating taxpayers' cash like Monopoly money and accusing him of a "chilling" record of opposing measures to tackle terrorism.

Ms Rudd told viewers: "The only question to consider is who should be in No 10 to steer Britain to a brighter future? Jeremy Corbyn with his money tree, wish-list manifesto and no plan for Brexit or Theresa May with her record of delivery?"

She said Mr Corbyn's spending plans did not add up: "It's as though he thinks it's some sort of game - a game of Monopoly perhaps."

She added: "It's not like that. This is people's hard-earned money. We will protect that. We won't roll the dice."

Ms Rudd sought to emphasise the Tory campaign message that Mr Corbyn, backed by some of the smaller parties, could form a "coalition of chaos" aimed at preventing Mrs May from returning to Number 10 after June 8.

"You have heard the squabbling and discord of disagreement here tonight," she said.

"You have seen the coalition of chaos here in action but in the quiet of the polling booth you have a clear choice."

Mr Corbyn challenged her directly over the Conservatives' record on poverty, saying: "Have you been to a food bank? Have you seen people sleeping around our stations?

"Have you seen the levels of poverty that exist because of your government's conscious decisions on benefits?"

Setting out his pitch to voters, the Labour leader said: "We cannot go on like this.

"We have to start putting more money into our public services and our resources, we have to have an economy that works for all and we don't have to have a spiv economy that hands tax relief to the biggest corporations and the wealthiest people while ignoring the desperate cries for social help of so many people in our country."

Ms Rudd was laughed at by the audience as she called for people to "judge us on our record" on the public finances.

The Home Secretary also came under pressure over the so-called "dementia tax" shake-up of social care, the plan to axe the pension triple-lock and means-test the winter fuel payment worth up to £300 for elderly people.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said Mrs May's refusal to set out what the cap on social care costs would be or who would lose their winter fuel payments meant she was asking voters for a "blank cheque" but could not be "bothered" to turn up.

The Prime Minister's absence was repeatedly raised during the debate, with SNP depute leader Angus Robertson saying "weak and wobbly" Mrs May was "not so much the Iron Lady as the U-turn Queen".

:: YouGov surveyed 1,875 British adults between May 30 and 31. Data was weighted to be representative.