Can May reach the masses?
British Prime Minister Theresa May's manifesto foresees a tougher immigration policy and reforms in tax policy. In this way she hopes to gain the backing of as many voters as possibe ahead of the Brexit negotiations. Europe's commentators discuss whether her plan can work and whether this is the right strategy for Britain in the long term.
Brexit mantra is dangerous
May is heading in the wrong direction by campaigning for a withdrawal from the EU Single Market and limitations on freedom of movement for EU citizens, The Observer believes:
“The mantra is repeated that no deal is better than a bad deal. On this, Mrs May and her party are plain wrong. If Britain crashes out of the EU with no deal, the impact on our economic relationship with Europe will be traumatic. For more than 40 years, Britain's industrial policy has been EU membership. The inward investment that has transformed our manufacturing industry along with the location of some 500 multinationals with their regional or global headquarters in Britain are now all at risk, let alone financial services and the creative industries. ... That May's position has been so little challenged is a disgrace and tribute to the feebleness of today's Labour party.”
Tories emulating Le Pen
With its xenophobic undertones May's manifesto in some aspects resembles the statements of far-right politician Marine Le Pen in France, El País criticises:
“The foreigners are to blame for all the problems. That's how Marine Le Pen sees it. ... If such discourse is branded as populist and xenophobic then how should we describe that of Theresa May in the UK? ... [Her manifesto] once again presents the rejection of foreigners as the magic formula. Prosperity is to come from putting a stop to immigrants, especially the less qualified. Companies that hire non-EU citizens are to pay double the normal tax rate (2,000 pounds per year). The criteria for obtaining student visas are also to be tightened and border controls will be intensified to slow down the influx of European citizens”
Isolationism with a social welfare twist
With her manifesto May is on track to win the election, De Volkskrant comments:
“Just like New Labour some twenty years ago Theresa May's team is convinced of the loyalty of its supporters. In May's case we're talking about the loyalty of the wealthier older generation and the business world. ... Her manifesto contains points that were in the Labour manifesto two years ago. ... Her quest to gain the support of Brexit voters in central and northern England is being made easier by the fact that there is effectively no credible opposition. ... So far the hopes of British pro-Europeans that May will use a stronger mandate to pull off a softer Brexit are unjustified. She remains on course for a hard Brexit in her bid to bring down immigration figures.”
Tories can't please everyone
The Tories are promising too much in their manifesto, The Times fears:
“Theresa May's manifesto tries to appeal a large part of the political spectrum, from 'mainstream' voters on the centre left to former Ukip supporters now without a home. But is its impact blunted by attempts to do too much? The prime minister uses the manifesto to close down policy flanks opened by Labour, spending £8 billion more on health and £4 billion more on education in the next parliament. ... Her tough rhetoric on immigration will attract some former Ukip voters but her decision to tether herself to the failed target to reduce migration below 100,000 could undermine its credibility. ... There is still work to do to convince people to believe in 'Mayism' - a term she dislikes - and prove what it actually amounts to.”