Theresa May has said she needs as big a mandate as Emmanuel Macron in order to have a “strong” position in the Brexit negotiations.
Macron won 66% of the vote to Marine Le Pen’s 33% yesterday to become the next French president.
Speaking in Harrow, north west London, this morning, May said despite her poll lead over Jeremy Corbyn the Conservatives could not take “a single thing for granted”.
The prime minister, speaking in front of signs that said ‘Theresa May’s Team’ to emphasise the almost presidential campaign message she has adopted, told Tory activists:
“Yesterday a new French president was elected. He was elected with a strong mandate which he can take as as strong position into the negotiations. The UK we need to ensue we have an equally strong mandate and an equally strong negotiating position.”
May said “every vote for me and my team will strengthen my hand in those Brexit negotiations”.
It would be extraordinary for May to win 66% of the vote on June 8. In 2015, David Cameron won a majority with 36.9% of the vote. Tony Blair’s 1997 landslide was achieved with 43.2%.
May said voting for Corbyn was a “risk”. She said: “Try to picture him at that negotiating table with the collective might of the European Commission and 27 other EU countries against him.”
In a phone call with Macron, May “briefly” discussed Brexit and the prime minister “reiterated that the UK wants a strong partnership”, Downing Street said.
Macron - who at 39 will become France’s youngest president - dashed Ms Le Pen’s nationalist hopes with his pro-European stance and moderate policies.
The new French president is no fan of Brexit. In his election manifesto he described the UK’s decision to leave the EU as a “crime” that will plunge Britain into “servitude”.