Reuters / Leon Neal
LONDON — Theresa May spent the second day of her general election campaign on Friday delivering a speech in her Maidenhead constituency which was heavy on stage-management and soundbites but noticeably light on policy or excitement.
Speaking to a group of employees and reporters at GlaxoSmithKline's toothpaste factory, the prime minister said that victory was "not certain" and repeated her warning that voters in June's snap election face a choice between "strong and stable leadership" — a phrase she repeated six times — and a "coalition of chaos" under opposition leadership.
May has already ruled out the prospect of participating in a TV debate, and early indications suggest that her aides will control her appearances tightly. There was further evidence of this on Friday, with assembled workers heard telling reporters that they were "not allowed" to answer their questions.
The prime minister took a series of questions from workers at the factory, most of which conveniently allowed May to repeat practised lines on topics including apprenticeships and EU residency rights after Brexit.
I've got it. The PM is trying to bore the country into submission, sucking the life out of this gen election.
The only new policy announcement was a pledge to keep a commitment to spending 0.7% of GDP on foreign aid, a move which could upset Conservative hardliners who want to see foreign aid spending reduced.
Aides did not later clarify what the prime minister meant when she said: "We’ve maintained that [0.7%] commitment, but we have to make sure that we’re spending that money as effectively as possible."
The prime minister's warning that Conservative victory was "not certain" was not present in a similar speech she delivered on Wednesday. It appears to be part of the party's reported new strategy to win a landslide by scaring voters into thinking that she could lose. Judging by today's appearance, the risk is that voters will have switched off long before they get the message.
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