Both the Prime Minister and Labour leader have written exclusive articles for The Yorkshire Post prior to tonight’s BBC1 Question Time special in York.
Their exchanges with a live studio audience, hosted by veteran presenter David Dimbleby, could be crucial to the outcome of next Thursday’s poll as Tory nerves grow about Labour’s resurgence.
A major police operation is underway at the University of York where hundreds of students and political activists are due to gather.
Mrs May spent part of yesterday campaigning in West Yorkshire, the location of her party’s manifesto launch a fortnight ago, while the Opposition leader plans to spend the whole day in this region.
Under pressure following a lacklustre campaign, her decision to miss Wednesday’s seven-way debate between UK party leaders after Mr Corbyn’s last minute attendance and the narrowing of the opinion polls, the Tory leader reiterated her credentials as the best leader to negotiate Britain’s exit from the European Union, a process which is due to begin 11 days after polling day.
And, writing in today’s newspaper, she says “a successful Brexit” holds the key to the county’s future economic prospects and domestic reforms – including new Institutes of Technology in every Yorkshire city.
“If we get Brexit right, then together we can do great things,” says the PM. “I am confident that we can make a success of it because I believe in Britain, in our country and in our people. I know that if we set our collective national energies on a task, our country can achieve great things. Nowhere is that more true than in Yorkshire, a county that boasts a great wealth of talent.
“Our task over the next five years is to make the most of the talents of every part of the country as we seize the opportunities ahead.”
Mrs May also says Yorkshire farmers will not be left out of pocket when existing EU subsidy arrangements coming to an end, promising to maintain the “same cash total” for for the duration of the next Parliament.
Yet, while the Prime Minister does mention the word ‘Conservative’ once and warns voters that it will take the loss of just six Tory-held seats in Yorkshire to pave the way for Mr Corbyn to be in a position to form a government, a prospect that was unthinkable at the start of the campaign, Labour’s leader acknowledges his increasing public support in this county.
In his article which makes no mention of ‘Brexit’, Mr Corbyn says: “People are realising that change is possible. They are realising that inequality doesn’t have to exist. Instead of being held back by cuts, our futures can be invested in.”
Accusing his opponents of devolving austerity, he reaffirms Labour’s commitment to halve train journey times between Leeds and Manchester to just 25 minutes.
“Spending on transport is completely biased against the North. Over the next few years, this Government plans to spend £1,943 per person on transport projects in London. But in Yorkshire, it will spend just £190 per person, less than a tenth of what’s being spent in the capital,” he says.
“Yet the corridor of northern cities, stretching from Liverpool and Preston in the west to York and Hull in the east, has the potential to become an even greater driver of economic growth. That’s why we want to help develop a true Northern Powerhouse and rebalance power, wealth and opportunity across the country.”
Tonight’s event will see both leaders spend 45 minutes answering questions from voters, though Mrs May and Mr Corbyn will not take part in any head-to-head discussions.
The programme, which starts at 8.30pm, comes 48 hours after seven senior political figures took part in a stormy debate Cambridge hosted by the BBC, with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson claiming yesterday that the format was biased against the Conservatives and “the most left-wing audience I’ve ever seen”.