The Conservatives are attempting to turn the UK general election into a presidential-style contest between Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May, it emerged on Monday 8 May.

The prime minister spoke to supporters in Harrow, northwest London, where she was surrounded by "Theresa May's Team" banners.

"Yesterday a new French president was elected. He was elected with a strong mandate, which he can take as a strong position in the negotiations," the Conservative premier said.

"We need to ensure that we've got an equally strong mandate and an equally strong negotiating position.

"Every vote for me and my team with strengthen my hand in those Brexit negotiations. The alternative is to risk making Jeremy Corbyn prime minister.

"Try and picture him sitting him at the negotiating table with the collective might of the European Commission and the 27 other European countries against him."

May also claimed against the the Liberal Democrats and the SNP were planning to "prop" Corbyn up in a "coalition of chaos", even though leader Tim Farron has ruled out a coalition deal with Labour.

May's speech comes just days after the Conservatives recorded very strong results in the local and metro mayor elections across England, Wales and Scotland on 4 May.

The Tories were even able to win the mayorships in two Labour heartlands – the West Midlands, where Andy Street bear Sion Simon, and the Tees Valley, where Ben Houchen beat Sue Jeffrey.

The latest opinion poll from ICM, of more than 2,000 voters between 3 and 5 May, gave the Conservatives an 18 point lead over Labour (46% versus 28%).

The data means that May is heading for a landslide on 8 June, but she has been consistent in playing down her commanding lead. "The reality is that only a general election vote for the Conservatives in 34 days time will strengthen my hand to get the best deal for Britain from Brexit," she said on 5 May.

Corbyn, who celebrated Labour's victory in the Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester, described the results as "mixed".

"There is also a huge danger – that the Tories' fear-mongering and spin machine will make some people settle for less than they should. Resign themselves to things the way they are – underestimating just how many more burdens the Tories could impose if their mission to rig the system for the rich isn't halted," the left-winger said.

"The stakes are high. We know from yesterday's election results that the gap between us and the Tories is not as great as the pundits have been saying. But we still have many people to convince. We have four weeks to do that."