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British PM gives TV interview with husband to lighten campaign

© Conservative Party/AFP | British Prime Minister Theresa May gave a first TV interview with her her husband, seeking to soften her image ahead of the election


British Prime Minister Theresa May gave a first television interview alongside her husband Tuesday, sidelining Brexit to talk about family -- and shoes -- in a bid to soften her image ahead of the election.

Philip May, a banker who rarely speaks in public, joined his wife on the cosy sofa of the BBC's One Show, a popular and relaxed early evening programme aired while many families are having dinner.

With old photographs and reflections on her "very happy childhood", May's appearance was geared to show another side of a premier who has drawn fire over her staid appearances on the campaign trail.

Discussing countryside walks, cooking, and a love of buying shoes such topics appeared aimed at cementing the prime minister as a likeable leader ahead of the June 8 vote.

May's ruling Conservative Party has put her at the centre of its campaign. In recent days she has given speeches in front of posters proclaiming "Theresa May's Team", while newspaper adverts promote "Theresa May for Britain".

The relegation of the Conservatives to the small print is unusual in British elections, where voters choose a party, not a prime minister.

But May denied claims that she is running a presidential-style race.

"It is about the Conservative Party, it's about a team in the Conservative Party and obviously I'm the leader of that party," she told the One Show.

"It's about having a strong and stable government, a strong and stable leadership," she added, repeating her campaign mantra.

But the prime minister also stressed the "need to be tough" in negotiations, ahead of Brexit talks formally starting next month.

And although Britain voted to leave the European Union, May said the country would not be dropping out of the popular Eurovision Song Contest.

"Although in current circumstances I'm not sure how many votes we'll get," she joked, ahead of the competition's final on Saturday.

Leader of a party May herself once described as "nasty", commentators say the focus on her is a calculated move as polls show she is more popular than the Conservatives' own brand.

The move also raises the comparison with opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, whose personal ratings are dire. Many of his MPs have left him off their local campaign literature.

May has refused to take part in a head-to-head debate with Corbyn but the two leaders will appear consecutively on a BBC programme on June 2, answering questions from a live audience.

Corbyn will make his own appearance on the One Show at a future date.

© 2017 AFP