Theresa May’s efforts to avoid journalists on the campaign trail have led Labour to accuse her of “going to extraordinary efforts to avoid any form of public scrutiny”.
May visited a diving equipment factory in Cornwall this morning, not that you would know it from reading Cornwall Live, which used its live blog to stress how hard it was to get close to the prime minister.
Theresa May visits AP Diving in St Ives where media were tightly controlled
The blog included a photo of a closed door their journalist could not go through, a film of the nearest they were allowed to shoot from (a long way off) and openly wondering why they were refused to permit their three-minute meeting with her.
Journalists were even put in a room together to prevent them carrying out any unauthorised filming.
MP Andrew Gwynne, Labour’s National Election Chair, said: “Theresa May’s campaign is going to extraordinary efforts to avoid any form of public scrutiny.
“What is especially worrying is that we’ve still not even heard from the Prime Minister on the alarming leaks from Brussels, which expose just how reckless her Brexit plans are.
“Rather than hiding away, the Prime Minister needs to come out and explain just what on earth is going on.”
HuffPost UK has contacted Conservative Campaign Headquarters for comment but had not received one as this article went live.
Cornwall Live’s blog said of the visit: “Having covered several high-profile politicians’ and royal visits over the years, the level of media control here is far and above anything I’ve seen before.
“We’re not even allowed to show you her visiting the building.”
Cornwall Live’s deputy editor Steve Smith said he had “never known a visit like this”.
Rival paper The Falmouth Packet reported May’s visit had been “kept completely secret right up until the last moment” and that it was unclear “if Mrs May will now visit other businesses in the surrounding area or continue on to a different part of Cornwall”.
The absurdity of the controls was picked up by journalists in Westminster.
PolitisHome editor Kevin Schofield contrasted May’s day with Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott, who had a disastrous interview trying to promote Labour’s pledge to increase police funding but was at least “taking loads of media questions”.
At least Diane Abbott is fronting up today and taking loads of media questions. Unlike the PM, it would seem … https://t.co/l9A6GPVz8W
— Kevin Schofield (@PolhomeEditor) May 2, 2017
Former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell said May was having a “touch of the Erdogans again”, referring to the authoritarian, anti-press Turkish president.
A German tweeter compared her shutting out the press to the Populist Right party AfD.
St Ives was a Lib Dem seat that the Tories won in 2015, turning the whole county blue.
During Cornwall Live’s permitted three-minute exchange with the PM which they weren’t allowed to film, the site’s reporter asked whether the Government had to give the county more money to fund social care.
May urged people to appreciate the broader picture, adding: “That is about strong and stable leadership.”