Theresa May brushed off criticism in George Osborne's first newspaper editorial that she's offering nothing but slogans – by telling voters she will offer "strong and stable leadership".
At a campaign stop in Bristol on Tuesday night, BuzzFeed News asked the prime minister what she thought of Osborne's first editorial since taking over at the Evening Standard. In that piece, the newspaper described Brexit as "an historic mistake" and said May needs to offer voters more detail about her intentions for handling withdrawal from the European Union.
"There's nothing wrong with repeating election campaign slogans," the Evening Standard said, referring to May's constant use of a handful of phrases in the first few weeks of the campaign (of which "strong and stable leadership" has been the most prominent). "The problem comes when the election campaign amounts to no more than a slogan."
Undeterred by that jibe from the former chancellor, May responded by reaching again for her most tried-and-trusted slogan.
"What I’m doing is giving a very clear message about this campaign, and this election," she told the gathering of Tory activists and political journalists in Bristol. "And I’m doing that because this election is so important for the future of this country.
"And it is about who is going to lead those negotiations on Brexit. It is about who has got the plan and the vision to take our country forward to a better future. I believe that leadership, that plan, that vision is only there with the Conservative party – and that is the very clear choice that people have when they come to vote at this election."
"Do they want that strong and stable leadership, in the national interest, under the Conservatives, or the coalition of chaos under Jeremy Corbyn?" she finally asked.
Addressing Osborne's controversial new job as the editor of the London evening newspaper, the prime minister said: "First of all, can I wish George all the very best."
That drew laughter from the activists, and May carried on: "George did a great job for our party and for our country in his time as chancellor of the exchequer. He’s now moved on to a new career and I genuinely wish him all the best in that career."
A few minutes earlier, May laid into Diane Abbott, Labour's shadow home affairs secretary, for her disastrous radio interview on LBC on Tuesday morning.
"I think she was suggesting you could employ a police officer for £8,000 a head," the PM said. "I think she needs to go and have another look at her figures."
The Tory crowd laughed derisively.
"People are laughing at this, but actually this is very serious," May said. "Diane Abbott wants to be home secretary in our country."
And then, of course, came that slogan again: "I think that shows people yet again the very clear choice between the strong and stable leadership of the Conservative party in government and the coalition of chaos there would be under Jeremy Corbyn."
Alex Spence is a senior political correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Alex Spence at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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