General election 2017
British Prime Minister Theresa May speaks to supporters at the Brackla community centre in Bridgend, south Wales, in the build-up to the general election on 8 June Rebecca Nadan/AFP

Theresa May has delivered a scathing attack on Brussels, accusing unidentified European politicians and officials of seeking to influence the general election through a series of "threats".

Speaking outside Downing Street after visiting the Queen at Buckingham Palace to mark the dissolution of Parliament, the prime minister ratcheted up hostilities with the EU.

These are the key points of her speech:

  • "The 2015 Parliament is now at an end, and in 36 days the country will elect a new government and choose the next prime minister. The choice you now face is all about the future."
  • "Whoever wins on 8 June will face one overriding task: to get the best possible deal for this United Kingdom from Brexit."
  • "In the last few days, we have seen just how tough these talks are likely to be."
  • "Britain's negotiating position in Europe has been misrepresented in the continental press. The European Commission's negotiating stance has hardened. 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."
  • "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."

The newspapers are broadly supportive of Theresa May's harsh words for the EU portraying her as someone who is prepared to stand up to Brussels.

The Daily Mail headlines: 'Hands off our election', while The Sun headlines 'Nuclear Juncker, May goes ballistic at EU'.

The splash in the Express reads: 'Don't meddle in our election'.

Meanwhile the Times reports that May's intervention is an attempt to isolate hardliners and appeal to member states.

Former Polish foreign minister, Radislaw Sikorski Reuters

Former Polish foreign minister, Radosław Sikorski has given BBC's Newsnight his explanation for the difference in opinion between Brussels and the UK over Brexit.

He said that the EU delegation did not expect the British side to be seriously arguing what was being said in the British press over their demands for Brexit and that it appeared the British side "believed in their own propaganda".

"They (the EU) tried to signal: 'look you need to become more realistic'. In the terms of the British election campaign, it makes sense to make the EU the enemy, but of course that is a very dangerous game".

Daniel Hannan
Tory Eurosceptic MEP Daniel Hannan Getty

MEP for south east England, Daniel Hannan, has told BBC's Newsnight that the EU's formal position on Brexit is closer to the UK's than what the British government may think.

He said: "We agree that there should be a free trade agreement, we agree on military and security cooperation, we agree on not wanting a hard border in Ireland, we agree on reciprocity for the rights of citizens who have settled in each other's jurisdictions.

"There is no reason for this to be a process that spins out of control but it was unfortunate to have had this leak and this story about the money which can only have had the effect it had," he added.

Yvette Cooper
File photo: Yvette Cooper, has criticised the statement by prime minister Theresa May Leon Neal/Getty Images

The chair of the Commons home affairs select committee, Yvette Cooper has described Theresa May's attack on the EU as "paranoid if she believes it".

She wrote in the Huffington Post: "The idea that the EU could try or succeed to influence our election result is a joke. No-one here would fall for it, and frankly anything the EU tried would be counter productive anyway."

Lord Norman Lamont
Lord Norman Lamont served as chancellor under John Major during the 1992 Black Wednesday crisis Getty Images

Accusations that there has been foreign interference in the UK election has reminded many of the role of Russia in recent ballots.

Former chancellor Norman Lamont has raised the spectre of Russia, and backed Theresa May's comments, by saying that even Vladimir Putin would "blush" at attempts by Brussels to influence the election on 8 June.

He said, according to the BBC: "The prime minister is absolutely right to speak out and reject Brussels' attempts to interfere in the British election and pressurise the British people.

"The efforts of Mr Juncker and Mr Barnier would cause Mr Putin to blush. It's not for Mr Barnier or Mr Juncker to keep telling the British people they will be worse off after Brexit. The British people are perfectly capable of making up their own minds and it's their decision."

Nick Clegg: PM treating EU leaders like subordinates

He faced wipe out at the last election, so it is probably with a hint of satisfaction that former Liberal Democrat deputy prime minister Nick Clegg took a swipe at Theresa May.

He described her as "either scaremongering or being paranoid" by saying that EU officials interfered in the election.

"The coalition of hard Brexit between the Conservatives and UKIP is now complete - and it will be hard-pressed families up and down the country who will suffer most," he said.

Juncker jokes about food after discussing Brexit over dinner with Theresa May

Business editor of IBTimes UK, Gaurav Sharma, takes a look at the claims from both sides about Britain's prospective Brexit divorce bill.

He writes that European Commission president, Jean Claude Juncker, can not put a precise figure to the UK's Brexit bill because, without proper costing and budgetary analysis, one has not been arrived at yet.

Sharma writes: "It'll be a while yet before the level of hot air subsides, but neither will Brussels charge London €100bn, nor will the latter walk away free without paying a sum that both parties will come to an agreement over. Till then brace yourself for exaggerated Brexit arithmetic and aggressive newspaper sales pitches."


A while back a fellow by the name of Isaac Newton mentioned something about there being an equal and opposite reaction for every action.

Naturally, the prime minister's strong words are garnering an equally strong response.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon Getty Images

Meanwhile, Scotland's First Minister issued the following response to May's speech:


Reaction to May's unprecedented attack is pouring in. Here's what Tony Blair's former communications chief and IBTimes UK columnist, Alastair Campbell thinks:

"Today it became clearer than Britain's entire future is just a pawn in her electoral game.

"Her little tantrum on the steps of Number 10 made clear that the electioneering is more important than the damage she might do to Britain. She says she wants a deal but conducts herself in a manner designed to come away without one.

"But as long as the hard Brexiteers and the Brextremist Lie Machine are happy so is she."


The view from Brussels:

General election 2017
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (L) and British Prime Minister Theresa May Getty Images, Reuters

Jeremy Corbyn accuses the prime minister of using Brexit as a pawn in the General Election.


Strong and stable or dangerously confrontational?

Here's ITV's political editor, Robert Peston's take:

"There is a risk that the ill-tempered debut of this Brexit process could deteriorate rapidly into serious breakdown - with the probability of the UK tumbling out of the EU in a chaotic and costly way that much more likely.

"So the question for all of us is whether T May is being strong, stable and realistic or dangerously confrontational?

"Perhaps the most important thing for you to know is that ministers believe Germany and Merkel are behind what they see as sabotage by Juncker and Selmayr.

"Which brings with it the possibility therefore that confrontation with Brussels becomes a stand off with Europe's most powerful economy."

Martin Selmayr is Juncker's chief of staff.


Read Theresa May's speech in full:


Political commentators have reacted with surprise and bemusement to May's extraordinary speech. Here are some of the best:

"Well that was definitely strong. Stable, not so much," wrote Jack Blanchard, the Daily Mirror's political editor.

John Rentoul, the chief political commentator at the Independent, said: "There are two ways of negotiating: seek common ground or threaten to go to war. Theresa May has chosen 2nd option for Brexit."

Ian Dunt, the editor of, said he was "genuinely f****** horrified" by May's comments. "I am honestly not sure I have ever seen a more irresponsible comment by a British prime minister," he posted on Twitter.


Britain's withdrawal from the EU is a prominent theme in the general election and May identified Brexit negotiations as "central to everything" in her speech.

Whoever is elected in June faces an uphill task, amid reports the EU could slap a €100m (£84bn, $109m) divorce bill on Britain. Brexit Secretary David Davis rejected the figure, saying: "We are not supplicants." He added: "They lay down what they want and we lay down what we want."