LONDON – The top contenders in Britain's upcoming election agreed Thursday that Brexit is coming, but clashed over how best to wiggle out of the European Union.
Prime Minister Theresa May told supporters in northern England that Britain's vote nearly one year ago to leave the EU bloc will make a wealth of new opportunities available — if voters leave her in charge after the June 8 vote.
"If they do, I am confident that we can fulfill the promise of Brexit together and build a Britain that is stronger, fairer and even more prosperous than it is today," May said.
She spoke as recent opinion surveys suggest her Conservative Party's once commanding lead over Labour has been shrinking in recent days.
May has stuck to her strategy of trying to focus attention on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, saying that he is unfit to helm Britain's Brexit negotiations when they begin in earnest later this month.
"He doesn't believe in Britain," she said in a blistering attack. "He doesn't have a plan. He doesn't have what it takes."
May has faced some criticism for declining to directly debate Corbyn or any of the smaller party leaders.
Corbyn used a rally in Basildon, in southeastern England, to say that May and the Conservatives are putting Britain's economy at risk by taking an unnecessarily hard line toward the EU over Brexit terms, which may lead to a breakdown in talks.
He said leaving the EU without a replacement trade deal in place would be the worst possible outcome that could lead to a loss of high-paying British jobs.
"That would mean slapping tariffs on the goods we export — an extra 10 percent on cars — with the risk that key manufacturers would leave for the European mainland, taking skilled jobs with them," he said.