Theresa May.   Picture: REUTERS
Theresa May. Picture: REUTERS

Maidenhead, England — On Friday, British Prime Minister Theresa May said she was not taking anything for granted as she gears up for a snap election in June; polls suggest her Conservative party is heading for a landslide victory.

May called the national election in a surprise move on Tuesday, saying it was necessary to boost her majority and provide stability as Britain gears up for two years of negotiations with the EU about its departure from the bloc. Polls give May’s governing party a lead of about 20 percentage points, enough to command a majority that could be more than 100 seats, but May said she is not complacent.

"The election campaign has only just begun. I’m not taking anything for granted. The result is not certain," she said in a speech at a GlaxoSmithKline factory in her constituency of Maidenhead.

The opposition Labour party has been riven by divisions over its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and Brexit, while May’s commitment to a clean break with the EU has undermined support for the euro-sceptic UK Independence party.

While many specific policy positions have yet to be finalised, May did reaffirm a commitment on foreign aid spending — a pillar of predecessor David Cameron’s attempts to soften the image of the Conservative party. May said that the pledge to spend 0.7% of national income on foreign aid would remain, following speculation that it would be scrapped in the Conservatives’ election manifesto amid opposition from some law-makers and newspapers who said it should be spent at home instead.

"Let’s be clear — the 0.7% remains, and will remain," she said. "What we need to do, though, is look at how that money is spent, and make sure that we are able to spend that money in the most effective way."

Former archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who chairs the charity Christian Aid, had earlier called on May to wear the commitment as a "badge of honour", and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has also called for the spending to be maintained.

The Daily Mail newspaper reported earlier in the week that May would ditch the target to spend more on defence.


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