May sells "new future" with Brexit as opposition slams "doublespeak"

Leaving the European Union will provide an opportunity to "reshape" the nation and "bring power home," British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Wednesday.

"This is our generation's moment, to write a new future on the page and to bring power home and to make decisions here in Britain," May said in a keynote speech at an annual conference of the ruling Conservative Party.

Leaving the EU will also give people a chance "to take back control here in Britain, to build an outward-looking trading nation here in Britain," she said.

May urged party members and the wider public to "write that brighter future," whether they voted for or against Brexit.

"Come with me and we'll make that change," she said. "Come with me, and together let's seize the day."

May outlined her "vision for Britain to be a great meritocracy" that guarantees "fairness and opportunity" for everyone.

The vote to leave the EU in a referendum on June 23 also reflected a "profound and justified" sense that the economy serves only an elite, and not "ordinary working-class people," she said.

"It was a vote not just to change Britain's relationship with the European Union, but to call for a change in the way our country works - and the people for whom it works - forever."

Reacting to the speech, opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Conservative Party leaders "have sunk to a new low [at their conference] this week as they fan the flames of xenophobia and hatred in our communities."

Many opposition lawmakers have criticized the Conservatives' focus on migration, including a plan to require employers to report lists of foreign staff to the government.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said May's attempt to push the Conservatives towards the centre of British politics, by promising greater social and economic equality, was "utterly divorced from her party's action."

Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas said May's speech showed she was "a master in doublespeak."

May "preaches fairness yet one million people use food banks" and discusses "handing back power but hasn't won [a general] election as leader," Lucas said.

May served as home secretary under previous prime minister David Cameron, who resigned after he failed to persuade voters to reject Brexit in a June 23 referendum.

She was elected by leading members of the ruling Conservative Party and has said she does not plan to call a general election before a mandatory one in 2020.

May announced on Sunday that she plans to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty - which sets the rules for a two-year negotiating process for a nation leaving the EU - by the end of March.

Last update: Wed, 05/10/2016 - 20:27

More from Europe

Russia drops request for navy to use Spanish port under NATO pressure

Russia has withdrawn its request for warships to use the Spanish port of Ceuta on the Mediterranean Sea, the Russian...

Conservationists slam Norway at whaling conference

Conservationist groups Wednesday criticized an ongoing meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) for...

EU queries Italy spending plans; Renzi threatens retaliatory veto

The European Commission has asked Italy to explain its spendthrift 2017 budget plans, it confirmed Wednesday, hours...

Calais migrant camp empty, as official announces "end of the Jungle"

All the migrants at a camp near the northern French port city of Calais have left, the official heading the Pas de...

Migrant rescues close to Libya pose security risk, EU agency says

Migrants adrift in the Mediterranean are being picked up "closer and closer" to Libyan waters, exposing rescue...