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Theresa May Went On Question Time And Was Called A Liar Within Seconds

The two leaders faced tough questions as the audience vented frustrations at both the Tories and Labour in the final big TV showdown of the campaign.

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Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn appeared on a special election edition of Question Time on Friday night, in one of their final big TV appearances before polling day.

Stefan Rousseau / PA Wire/PA Images

May wasn't interested in doing a head-to-head debate with Corbyn, so they appeared in separate 45-minute sections, facing questions from an audience made up of one-third Tory, one third Labour, and one third other parties/undecided voters.

Maygot a pretty hard time from the audience from the outset. The first question was why anyone should trust her after all the "broken promises and backtracking" during her time in government.

Took this lady 35 seconds to sum up Theresa May's entire political campaign. Pretty grim listening for May #BBCqt

"Your entire manifesto has holes in it," the young woman who asked the first question told the prime minister.

The next few questions were also tough: Why didn't May debate Jeremy Corbyn head-to-head on TV? Why did she call the election in the first place after repeatedly saying she wouldn't? It was clear those issues have cut through with voters.

Question one: why are you such a massive liar? May: can I thank you all for coming #bbcqt

"Secretly, you must feel a little bit of remorse," one Tory supporter in the audience told May, referring to her decision to call the election in the first place,

"Let's face it you called the election for the good of your own political gains," another man said. "It's going to backfire on you"

"I had the balls to call an election," May retorted, stabbing her finger in the air.

I never want to hear Theresa May say "I had the balls" again

At least it wasn't one of her stock answers journalists and members of the public have gotten used to on the campaign.

Although, her poll lead over Labour when she called the election was nearly 20 points and virtually everyone in her party was telling her to go for it, so it's unclear how much of a ballsy move it was.

For the most part, people thought May came across pretty well.

May looking more relaxed and confident than previously. Proves that tougher Qs make for better politicians. She shd do it more often. #BBCQT

There was the almost inevitable dig at Diane Abbott, but it didn't get the kind of laugh it usually gets from Tory supporters at May's campaign rallies.

Desperate stuff by May. Claims I want to wipe DNA database clean. Never said that. Curious that she is singling me out for attack #BBCQT

What else happened? There was a guy in the audience with a fabulous moustache.

I want to see a sitcom where these two are next door neighbours #bbcqt

And of course, everybody wanted May to just admit she'd done a U-turn on social care and she wouldn't. Nor would she say what the cap on social care costs will be.

May looked & sounded confident until she struggled to explain her own policy on social care. Extraordinary own goal of a policy #bbcqt

May has revealed that her mysterious cap on social care costs will be somewhere between zero and a trillion pounds. #bbcqt

But probably May's toughest encounter was on public sector pay. She was confronted by a nurse who said she hadn't had a payrise since 2009, so why should she vote Tory?

Nurse questions May about pay; May says she will increase NHS funding but "there isn't a magic money tree" #bbcqt…

Defending public sector cuts, May said there "wasn't a magic money tree", which is one of her stock attack lines against Labour's spending promises, but in response to a question from a nurse who hadn't had a payrise for eight years came across as insensitive to many.

"Magic Money Tree" isn’t going down well. So patronising. #BBCQT

Did Theresa May just say to a nurse "there's no magic money tree" when asked about the 1% pay rise. Unbelievable. #bbcqt

And then there was an encounter with a young woman who was moved almost to tears talking about an intrusive benefits assessment.

Member of #bbcqt audience in tearful confrontation with PM over NHS & work capability assessments…

The partially-sighted woman tearfully addressing Theresa May could be one of the defining images of the campaign.…

To the distraught young woman the PM should have said she'd like to meet her after the show and go through her case.

May was asked why she'd kept David Cameron's promise to spend 0.7% of GDP on foreign aid, and didn't seem to realise some of it had gone to North Korea.

"We have to ensure we manage taxpayers’ money, carefully," the PM says before admitting she didn't know about this:

Then it was Corbyn's turn.

Wpa Pool / Getty Images

Asked if he'd got into coalition with the Scottish National Party, said he ruled out "any deals", but it wasn't enough for the foreign secretary.

Corbyn asked is he would rule out and SNP coalition. Waffle waffle blah blah. Of course he would and that would damage Brexit opportunities

And was then asked about the spending promises in his policy manifesto. Was it economically feasible, or was he a political Santa Claus?

'Letter to Santa Claus' you say? #bbcqt

The Labour leader's most difficult stretch was on Trident.

There has to be "no first use" of nuclear weapons - @jeremycorbyn questioned on use of Trident…

There were testy exchanges as the audience pressed Corbyn on whether he would ever authorise a nuclear strike. The Labour leader ruled out first use, since "If we did use it, millions would die." Would he use it if "North Korea or some idiot in Iran" attacked the UK? Corbyn said he would evaluate the evidence at the time.

Corbyn in trouble now. Finally pinned down on Trident use.

Corbyn's starting to look like he might be willing to use Trident on awkward Question Time audiences. #bbcqt

Though how well he answered on that depended on your views. One young woman said she was surprised some of the other audience members were so keen for bombs to be dropped and got a huge cheer.

"I don't understand why everyone in this room is to keen on killing millions of people," says one #bbcqt audience member. Fair.

You can expect the Tories will make a lot of Corbyn's comments on nuclear weapons in the coming days.

Most important moment of the night: Corbyn's refusal to answer the question on Trident #bbcqt

Corbyn was asked, again, about his connections to the IRA, and he, again, failed to respond convincingly for some.

Corbyn rejects another invitation from audience member to specifically condemn the IRA: 'All deaths are wrong. All killing is wrong.'

Ultimately, Corbyn seemed to have a good night. He's got a lot better at this. Both leaders looked composed and handled some tough questions well. Which may mean that nobody's mind was really swayed.

Six days to go...

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

Contact Alex Spence at

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