Theresa May vows to 'defeat socialism' as she launches attack on 'populist' Jeremy Corbyn
Theresa May has vowed to "defeat socialism" as she accused Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn of "exploiting populist politics" in his bid to win the next election.
The Prime Minister said putting Mr Corbyn in Number 10 would lead to "massive renationalisation, capital flight, a run on the pound (and) a bankrupt Britain".
In a speech to the annual Conservative Black and White Ball, she insisted that in contrast to Labour's left-wing agenda, her party must be the champions of "free trade, economic liberalism and the rules-based order".
Mrs May spoke out as speculation continues to swirl around Westminster that she could face a leadership challenge from disaffected Tory MPs.
The Prime Minister said that as it leaves the European Union, Britain can become a beacon of freedom while "building a modern economy fit for the future".
"Innovative, entrepreneurial and dynamic. Harnessing the skills, talents and indomitable spirit of the British people. And it has never been more important to do so," she said.
"Around the world, we see a rise of populism, nationalism and protectionism. We see the great positive forces of free trade, economic liberalism and the rules-based order which sustains them under threat.
"The world needs a strong and confident Britain, offering leadership and advocating for our values.
"And we see the same underlying truth here at home, too. Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party are exploiting populist politics. And what do they offer? Massive renationalisation. Capital flight. A run on the pound. That all leads to a bankrupt Britain.
"That’s why as Conservatives, we are on a renewed mission to fight and win the battle of ideas and to defeat socialism today as we have defeated it before."
In response to criticism from within her own party at her Brexit strategy, Mrs May insisted she had a "vision" which extended beyond the UK simply regaining control of its borders, money and laws.
She said: "Taking back control means leaving the single market and customs union, and constructing a completely new trading partnership with the EU – to protect and promote the interests of British businesses trading in Europe, and EU businesses trading here.
"We will forge a completely new alliance with our European partners to advance our interests around the world. As permanent members of the Security Council, and with Europe’s biggest defence budget, we will always remain steadfast in protecting Europe’s security.
"And we will raise our horizons beyond our near neighbours, across the Pacific and Atlantic oceans to nations far and wide to broaden and deepen our trade and security relationships across the world."