Theresa May is reportedly planning to refocus on Brexit as part of the Conservative Party’s general election campaign. But if she thought this strategy would take the heat off her floundering bid for victory on 8 June, she may be mistaken. As on Tuesday 30 May, both Labour and the SNP pulled apart her plans on BBC Radio 4‘s Today programme.
Round One: Robertson vs Immigration
Deputy SNP leader Angus Robertson got the ball rolling on the Today programme. Co-host Mishal Husain was asking Robertson about the SNP immigration policy, which he said [1.13.30] was “profoundly important” to Scotland. Robertson explained that the SNP is proposing that Scotland should have its own immigration policy. Not that Husain would let him finish:
Robertson went on to say that the SNP policy would focus on allowing [1.14.15] “people who are currently here to… remain”. And he insisted that “people are now leaving”. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), an independent panel which reviews the government’s economic policies, has warned that cutting immigration could cost the UK anything up to £6bn a year. And the SNP proposal to have a Scottish immigration policy appears to be a response to this. But when Robertson repeatedly tried to explain this, things got heated with Husain:
Any self-determining immigration policy by the SNP would be a serious blow to May, as it could signal another step towards Scottish independence. But while Robertson showed restraint in his assessment of the Tories’ Brexit plans, Labour’s Angela Rayner didn’t hold back.
Round Two: Rayner vs May’s “ogres”
John Humphrys was interviewing the Shadow Education Secretary. And when he probed her on Labour’s Brexit policy, she said [2.11.50] that the party wanted “access to the single market and that jobs come before anything else and we’ve been quite clear on that from the start”. But she then turned on May’s decision to call a general election:
Despite Humphrys’ apparently standard defence of the Conservative Party’s position, Rayner didn’t let the Tories off the hook. She tore into May, Brexit Secretary David Davis, and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, accusing them of making the UK a “laughing stock” in Europe:
May’s refocus on Brexit comes after U-turns on both social care and free school breakfasts. And it’s also off the back of less-than-gleaming performances in TV interviews. She seems to think that, by moving back to her ‘strong and stable’ rhetoric over the UK leaving the EU, it might shift the debate away from domestic policy. But judging by the latest polling and internal Conservative Party criticisms of the PM’s campaign, it may be too little too late.
– Vote on 8 June!
– Discuss the key policy issues with family members, colleagues and neighbours. And organise! Join (and participate in the activities of) a union, an activist group, and/or a political party.
– Also read more Canary articles on the 2017 general election.
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