May and Corbyn prepare for final pre-election TV grilling

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BRITAIN-ELECTIONS/

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn are shaping up for their final TV showdown of the General Election campaign as they take questions from voters in a live grilling expected to be watched by millions.

The Conservative and Labour leaders will appear separately on the BBC1 Question Time special, as the Prime Minister has refused to take part in televised debates with her rivals.

The clash came as Conservatives stepped up their assaults on Mr Corbyn amid opinion polls suggesting that their lead over Labour is shrinking with less than a week to go to the June 8 election.

Housing minister Gavin Barwell told the Daily Mail that Labour plans to reverse Conservative increases in the inheritance tax threshold would hit 1.2 million homes worth between £650,000 and £850,000 in what he termed a "punishing" tax hike.

And former housing minister Brandon Lewis claimed a Labour government would reverse measures designed to make it easier to remove travellers and squatters from illegally-occupied sites.

Meanwhile, The Sun reported claims that Labour's tax-raising plans - which the party says will hit only big business and the richest 5% - will cost an average of £3,500 per household.

And the Daily Telegraph said It had found evidence of internet "bots" automatically spreading Labour-backing messages on social media, though the party said it had nothing to do with them.

Mr Corbyn is making a speech in York to set out his plans to create one million "high quality" jobs by investing £250 billion in industry.

The Labour leader will say: "When Labour talks about job creation we mean decent jobs, jobs which pay a real living wage, which people can get by on, and which give people a sense of pride and purpose.

"Labour will invest to drive growth across the whole of Britain, creating wealth which is shared across our country, rather than concentrated in the hands of the few."

And Mrs May vowed to fight for the City of London in Brexit negotiations, telling City AM newspaper that it would not be "sensible" for the remaining 27 EU states to take action which would diminish the size and capability of the UK financial sector.

The PM warned that the City's role as a global financial hub "cannot be done by somebody else at the drop of the hat" and said she would urge EU states to recognise "the significant role that the City plays in supporting their economies and their businesses".

A Corbyn victory on June 8 would have "a hugely negative impact on our economy", she claimed.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister signalled that she wants to meet her pledge to cut immigration below 100,000 by 2022, telling reporters this is what she would be "working for".

But Brexit Secretary David Davis acknowledged that the Tories cannot promise to hit the target, which has been missed over the past seven years since first being formulated by David Cameron.

Describing the figure as "an aim", Mr Davis told BBC1's Question Time: "We can't promise it within five years."

Following a bruising encounter with the BBC's Andrew Neil on Thursday, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron is returning to the airwaves and the internet in the hunt for votes, with question sessions on Facebook and Mumsnet as well as an interview with LBC's Nick Ferrari.