May set to lament ‘rise of populism’ in valedictory speech

Theresa May is to make an emotional valedictory speech, on “the state of politics”, just days before she leaves Downing Street next week.

The outgoing PM is expected to lament “the rise of populism” in the UK, Europe and the United States and the “toxic nature” of political debate as she leaves office.

Her speech, to be delivered after her penultimate Prime Minister’s Questions, will be her last set-piece speech apart from her farewell address when she leaves No. 10 next Wednesday.

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She is expected to voice her deep frustration at her failure to get her Brexit deal through parliament and although she is unlikely to criticise Boris Johnson by name, her words are expected to include coded criticism of her likely successor.

In a Daily Mail interview last week, although she avoided mentioning Mr Johnson, she said: “Too many people in politics think being prime minister is a position of power.

“Actually, it is a position of service to the country where you are always asking yourself ‘What more can I do for the public?’

“All too often those who see it as a position of power see it as about themselves and not about the people they are serving. There is a real difference.”

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After her failure to reach a consensus in parliament on Brexit, she is also expected to express frustration that politics in Britain and abroad have become more polarised and extreme.

She is likely to launch a powerful attack on Jeremy Corbyn and attack him on his record on antisemitism in the Labour Party and on Brexit.

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In PMQs last week the prime minister said: “He was an anti-racist, now he ignores antisemitism. He has been a eurosceptic all his life, now he backs Remain.”

Although she is unlikely to criticise Donald Trump directly, this week she described the president’s remarks about four female Democrat congresswomen as “completely unacceptable”.

Mrs May is also expected to speak about abuse of politicians, particularly on social media, including death threats against MPs after the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox by a far-right activist.

British Prime Minister Theresa May reacts as she delivers a statement in London, Britain, May 24, 2019
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A senior source told the Sunday Express: “Obviously the PM has already made it clear that she is concerned about the way political debate is conducted, particularly on the internet.

“The number of death threats and very personal attacks on politicians is something that has troubled her while in office.”

Another source told the paper: “She wants to address the rise of populism and talk about the way it has changed politics.”

As well as the surge of Nigel Farage and his new Brexit Party in the UK, politics around the world has also seen a breakthrough by so-called populist leaders:

  • In Italy, Matteo Salvini, 46, is deputy prime minister and is tipped to win the next election on a wave of anti-EU sentiment and anger over immigration.
  • In France, President Macron’s unpopularity opened the door for National Front leader Marine Le Pen to lead her party to victory in the European elections in May
  • In India, Narendra Modi, 68, who leads the Bharatiya Janata Party, has just won a second landslide victory on a Hindu nationalist ticket.

Last month, ahead of the G20 meeting in Osaka in Japan, Mrs May hit out at abuse online and said it was only through “international co-operation and compromise that we can protect our citizens’ security”.

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Political News – International and UK Politics | Sky News

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