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Here's How The Last 13 Hours Of Theresa May's Glum Campaign Played Out

This is what it was like travelling with the prime minister's motorcade on the final day of campaigning before polls open on Thursday.

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Theresa May visited five cities in 13 gruelling hours on the final full day of campaigning on Wednesday, insisting she was "feeling good" despite a lacklustre Conservative campaign.

Chris J Ratcliffe / Getty Images

Joined by her husband Philip, May swung from London to the south coast, up to Norfolk, then across to the Midlands, where she finished with a rally in Birmingham surrounded by her cabinet.

The Conservatives are still considered likely to win tomorrow, but there is relief in the party that an eight-week campaign widely perceived as uninspired is now over.

Taking questions from journalists at a rally in Norwich, May rejected suggestions that her campaign had been disappointing, saying she has been ignoring the narrowing opinion polls and "work[ing] to earn the support of voters".

May started the day at 5.30am at Smithfield meat market in London. But it didn't go to plan as workers booed and shouted, "Vote Labour."

Ben Stansall / AFP / Getty Images

As she visited one stall, butchers on another booed and shouted "vote Labour"

The motorcade then headed south to Southampton, where May visited a bowling club and chatted to members.

Ben Stansall / AFP / Getty Images

Atherley Bowling Club is in the seat of Southampton Test, held by Labour's Alan Whitehead since 1997. "We've been trying to get rid of him for years," said a woman serving tea and biscuits for the travelling journalists.

May didn't join in the bowls taking place on the green beside her, but there was a new revelation: She took her tea without milk.

Then it was on to a chartered jet for a flight to Norwich.

Alex Spence

It was a 46-seat plane, chartered from a commercial operator, with the prime minister and Philip sitting in the front and the press pack down the back. At one point during the short flight, May wandered down the aisle to take questions for a few minutes.

How was she feeling? "I'm feeling good. I never predict election results, as you know. We just get out there for the final hours of campaigning."

Did she have any regrets? "No, I've enjoyed the campaign. Obviously the two terrible terror attacks have been something that nobody wants to see taking place at any time, including during an election campaign, but outside of those I've enjoyed getting out and about meeting a whole range of people across the country."

Was she confident? "I never predict election results. I just get out there and campaign for the result that I believe is the right one for the country, which is a Conservative government.”

With the press pack following Theresa May, and already been on 3 coaches and a plane. This was earlier on the plane.

Southampton, as seen from the window of Theresa May's (thankfully) strong and stable campaign plane

In Norwich the entourage transferred to another coach, which took them to an events centre where May addressed a small gathering of placard-waving Tory activists – the sort of event that has been the core of her campaign.

Toby Melville / Reuters

May delivered the stump speech she has given numerous times over the last eight weeks, with soundbites that have now been etched into the national consciousness: Strong and stable leadership. Coalition of chaos. Strengthen my hand for the Brexit negotiations. And so on.

May then took questions from the media. Security and terrorism dominated, as they have has since Saturday night's attack on London Bridge. May promised to improve conditions for hard-working families and to unite the country after Brexit.

"What I know from this campaign, what I've always known about myself, when it comes to campaigns, I like to get out and about and meet voters," the prime minister said. "It's what I've always done in election campaigns in my entire political career."

As it turned out, she didn't meet many voters in an uncontrolled setting, and certainly nobody that was likely to challenge her, as happened on a walkabout in Oxfordshire earlier in the campaign when May was confronted by a woman about cuts to disability benefits.

Love watching Philip May's expressions during the PM's campaign rally. Great game face.

Then it was back on the plane, and another coach, to a Dunelm furniture outlet in Nottingham. Reporters were escorted through the toilets at the back of the store to a cramped stockroom where the Mays met some of the staff. Frankly, it was a little surreal.

Theresa May is meeting five Dunelm Mill workers in what is basically a cupboard. She hasn't met any of the shoppers… https://t.co/qNcJaVVuSp

May is currently in the store room of Dunelm Mill just outside Notts. I'm assured this is a planned event - not the… https://t.co/Mbl6d56PEk

The staff did well at trying not to look awkward while a large group of cameramen, reporters, and Conservative campaign aides squeezed in between the shelves around them and watched them make small talk with the Mays.

"So, tell us about the business," the prime minister said. She nodded a lot. Philip seemed slightly more relaxed, asked a lot of questions, and stroked his chin thoughtfully as he listened to the answers.

The Mays then went to another room for tea and biscuits with the staff. The Conservative leader was asked where she gets her shoes from.

Ben Stansall / AFP / Getty Images

After that bizarre stop, the motorcade hit the road again, heading for the final stop in the Midlands. On the press bus, reporters worked on their stories and checked Twitter. (There wasn't much news to report.)

Alex Spence

Finally, the battlebus arrived at the last stop for May's final event of the campaign. It was another address to a supportive crowd. This time the cabinet appeared with her – including ministers who had barely been visible since the election was called.

Theresa May's final campaign rally, in the Midlands, with all the cabinet there. Leadsom! Fox! Javid! Truss! Where… https://t.co/FptNM9VgS9

There's not much point reporting the speech itself. You've heard it before.

Strong and stable and all that.

And just before 7pm, it was all over.

The press bus has just declared this campaign officially over.


Alex Spence is a senior political correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Alex Spence at alex.spence@buzzfeed.com.

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