Prime Minister Theresa May said that Britain had to "evolve" in the fight against terrorism, even at the expense of human rights. Her rival Jeremy Corbyn slammed dwindling numbers of police under Conservative rule.
Prime Minister Theresa May and her rival Jeremy Corbyn crisscrossed the UK on Wednesday in a last-ditch attempt to woo voters on the eve of the country's general election. While Brexit and social issues played a role in the last day of campaigning, the question of the day was who had a better plan to combat terrorism.
The prime minister called the snap elections - three years early - in order to shore up her Conservative Party's majority ahead of Brexit negotiations. The break from the EU had been the focal point in the early part of the election campaign. However, recent deadly attacks in London and Manchester have pushed extremism to the fore.
May has advocated stricter anti-terror laws, even if that means watering down some civil liberties.
"We are seeing the terrorist threat changing, we are seeing it evolve and we need to respond to that," May told supporters.
The prime minister has run as a no-nonsense, tough, "bloody difficult woman" who can get the job done. However, she has also been criticized as unfeeling and out of touch. According to an analysis by the Guardian, her strategy was to go on the offensive in rival territory - with more then half of her campaign stops in Labour Party constituencies.
Labour bemoans lack of police
Corbyn, for his part, has slammed May and her party for a lack of police presence on the streets. The Labour Party leader recalled how the number of officers plummeted by nearly 20,000 between 2010 and 2016, under May's watch as home secretary.
The 68-year-old politician said the Conservative plan was tantamount to "ripping up our basic rights and our democracy."
"Another five years of Tory government," Corbyn said, means "underfunding of services across the UK."
May also touched on the UK's exit from the European Union in her last day of campaigning, arguing that consistent leadership was necessary in order to get the most out of divorce proceedings.
"Get those negotiations wrong and the consequences will be dire," she said.
Polls open at 7 a.m. local time in Britain, with all 650 seats in the House of Commons up for grabs. Either party must win at least 326 seats to form a majority government. Although coalitions with smaller parties like the Greens or the Liberal Democrats are theoretically possible, it is a highly unusual outcome in the UK.
The last polls published before election day wavered between a slight lead for the Conservative Party or a deadlock between the two.
es/rc (AP, Reuters)