Britain votes in election torn between terrorism worries and Brexit

Britain votes in election torn between terrorism worries and Brexit strategies

The Washington Post’s Griff Witte says the latest terror attack in London is fresh in voters’ minds ahead of Britain’s June 8 special elections. (Sarah Parnass,Griff Witte/The Washington Post)

Britain’s suddenly unpredictable election campaign moved to the ballot box Thursday as voting began in a race that Prime Minister Theresa May once had solidly in her grip but then reshaped by terrorists attacks in London and Manchester.

May called the snap election seeking to increase her political power ahead of Britain’s exit negotiations with the European Union, pitching herself as the best leader to enter into complex divorce talks.

But the contest shifted in ways no one could have predicted. In a matter of weeks, her far-left opponent, Jeremy Corbyn, has surged as security issues overshadowed the Brexit talks.

As the campaign wrapped up, May’s seemingly insurmountable lead had dwindled to — in at least some polls — to a few points.

“I was a Remainer,” she said, referring to the E.U. referendum held last June. “But I accept that the will is to leave so we need to get the right deal.”

Corbyn has run a “fantastic campaign,” said Henry Wynn, 72, a professor emeritus who described the Labour leader as a “Bernie Sanders socialist” after he voted for Corbyn in the north London neighborhood of Islington.

“I’ll confess,” he added, “we’re in a mildly depressive mood. We face a bleak future with the Tories and I don’t know if we’re going to do it.”

But concerns over how to handle the Brexit talks have been increasingly overshadowed by security worries following two attacks in a span of less than two weeks.

On May 22, a suicide bomber killed 22 people at the conclusion of an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. In London, eight people died following a van-and-knife rampage around the bustling London Bridge area last Saturday.

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