Theresa May claims EU wants to influence UK election through threats

She said the UK's position had been misinterpreted

Theresa May claims EU wants to influence UK election through threats

British Prime Minister Theresa May greets European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at 10 Downing Street in London | Image: John Stillwell/PA Wire/PA Images

British Prime Minister Theresa May has accused European politicians and officials of seeking to influence the result of the UK general election through threats.

She said the UK's position had been misinterpreted and the European Commission's position had hardened.

She argued: "The events of the last few days have shown that whatever our wishes and however reasonable the positions of Europe's other leaders, there are some in Brussels who do not want these talks to succeed, who do not want Britain to prosper."

During the speech outside Downing Street, Mrs May appeared to reference the German newspaper report of a disastrous Brexit meeting between UK and EU representatives.

Mrs May suggested: "Britain's negotiating position in Europe has been misrepresented in the continental press. 

"Threats against Britain have been issued by European politicians and officials. All of these acts have been deliberately timed to affect the result of the General Election that will take place on 8 June."

Responding to the speech, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn accused Mrs May of "playing party games" in the "hope of winning advantage" for the Tories.

He said: "By winding up the public confrontation with Brussels, the Prime Minister wants to wrap the Conservative party in the Union Jack and distract attention from her Government's economic failure and run down of our public services.

"But Brexit is too important to be used as a political game in this election. These are vital negotiations for every person in Britain and for the future of our country. But Theresa May is putting party interest ahead of the national interest."

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also hit out at the speech:

Parliament dissolves

Mrs May was speaking after meeting Queen Elizabeth II to mark the dissolution of the British parliament.

Although MPs left Westminster last Thursday, the parliament was only officially dissolved a minute after midnight on Wednesday morning, 25 working days before polling day on June 8th.

Historically, a British prime minister has had to ask the monarch to dissolve parliament.

However, the 2011 Fixed-Term Parliaments Act made this process automatic, removing the royal prerogative.

Every seat in the House of Commons becomes vacant once the parliament is dissolved - and there are no MPs until they are chosen at the general election.

However, government ministers retain their roles and continue their work.

United Ireland proposal 

MPs are allowed access to parliament for just a few days in which to remove papers from their offices, and facilities provided by the Commons are no longer available to them from 5.00pm on the day of dissolution.

The election campaign itself has been in full swing for more than two weeks now, with the Conservatives warning on Wednesday that UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn would unleash "economic chaos" on Britain.

The Tories claim there is a stg£45bn black hole in Labour's spending plans, but shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the government was guilty of "lies".

Brexit has inevitably been featuring as well, with reports the UK could be asked to pay as much as €100bn as part of its 'divorce settlement' with the EU.

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator has said talks on Britain's exit will not be concluded "quickly and painlessly".

Meanwhile, British MEP Nigel Farage has criticised the European Union for using Ireland to make Brexit negotiations difficult for the UK.

"And worst of all in my opinion – worst of all – the EU have indicated that if Northern Ireland would opt to leave the United Kingdom and join up with Éire, there would be absolutely no problem in a new united Ireland virtually automatically becoming a member of the European Union.

"So what they are doing to try to make Brexit negotiations difficult for this government is they are prepared to stoke Irish nationalism and all that could come with that."