Security in mind as UK votes in wake of terror attacks

Attacks in Manchester, London switched attention in general election away from Brexit

Security in mind as UK votes in wake of terror attacks

World Bulletin / News Desk

Britons head for the polls Thursday in a general election that has seen the focus switch to security in the wake of terror attacks in Manchester and London.

When Prime Minister Theresa May called a surprise election in April -- three years ahead of schedule -- the campaign seemed certain to focus on the U.K.’s upcoming talks to leave the EU.

May billed the election as a clear choice on who would lead Britain as it negotiated its way out of the union. She sought to increase her Conservative Party’s 17-seat majority to strengthen the government’s mandate following a divisive Brexit referendum last year.

However, two terrorist attacks in Manchester and London that left 30 people dead in the weeks leading up to the vote shifting the emphasis to security, with police cuts during May’s six years as home secretary seeming to erode her lead in the polls.

Opinion polls still favor a Conservative victory but the previously predicted landslide of more than 100 seats has vanished. The most recent polls put the Conservative lead at between 1 and 12 percentage points.

The gap between the Conservatives and the Labour Party led by veteran left-winger Jeremy Corbyn began to narrow after May announced a policy on elderly care that proved unpopular.

Her subsequent reversal on the policy undermined her boast that she would provide “strong and stable” leadership, as did her refusal to take part in a TV debate with other party leaders.

This was compounded by the terror attacks on May 22 and June 5 that led analysts to look at the loss of 20,000 police officers during May’s term as home secretary between 2010 and 2016.

Labour has pledged an extra 10,000 police officers. However, Corbyn has found it tough to exploit the “law and order” issue, largely due to his record as a backbencher, when he often voted against anti-terror legislation and shared platforms with perceived terrorism supporters.

On Wednesday, May attempted to concentrate on Brexit, arguing that only she could deliver a favorable Brexit deal.

Negotiations on the U.K.’s departure from the EU begin on June 19 and May has promised to be tough with EU partners during talks. “No deal is better than a bad deal” was her mantra during the election campaign.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 08 Haziran 2017, 12:56