Theresa May has made a pitch to Labour voters unhappy at Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, urging people to look beyond “party labels”.
Writing in the Observer, the prime minister said voters were not “bound by ideology” and urged lifelong Labour voters to look “afresh” at her party.
She said the Tories had to offer a “positive and optimistic vision” and do more than just criticise Mr Corbyn.
But Labour said people were facing “brutal cuts” and “won’t be fooled”.
Mrs May’s pitch to Labour supporters follows her speech to the Conservative Party conference in which she set out domestic policies including a boost to council house-building and a promised end to austerity.
But the conference was dominated by Brexit, with her strategy facing heavy criticism as discussions with the EU enter the final straight.
In her article Mrs May said the Conservatives had a responsibility to offer a home to former Labour supporters who were “appalled” by the direction of the party under Mr Corbyn.
But the prime minister recognised her party must “do more than demonstrate the flaws of Corbynism”.
“We need to offer a positive and optimistic vision of the better future that our policies will deliver,” she said.
She said her government would “restore the dream of homeownership to a new generation” by building more homes and lifting the cap on the amount councils can borrow to fund new developments – policies also mentioned in her conference speech.
She also pledged to tackle the cost of living and restated her promise that the end of austerity was “in sight”.
Not just an appeal to Labour voters
By Jonathan Blake, BBC political correspondent
It’s not often that politicians admit that they’re wrong. And Theresa May hasn’t gone quite that far, but she has acknowledged that her tactics aren’t working.
The Conservatives, as she puts it, “must do more than demonstrate the flaws of Corbynism” – which is another way of saying that attacks on the Labour leader’s political past alone won’t win them an election.
The prime minister is concerned enough about people voting for a Labour government that she says “we are not just a party to clean up a mess” – and outlines several policies she hopes will appeal to Labour supporters.
She will have to hope that people believe her claim that the end to austerity “is in sight” and that they think eight years of financial belt-tightening has been worth it.
And it’s not just Labour voters Theresa May is appealing to. She may well need the support of their MPs to get any Brexit deal she reaches with the EU through Parliament.
Responding to Mrs May’s article, Labour Party chair Ian Lavery said the claim that austerity policies were over was “a con”.
“The Tories have spent their entire time in power running down our schools, local services and NHS, while gifting huge tax breaks to big business,” he said.
“The prime minister is clearly spooked, so is resorting to desperate pleas in an attempt to revive her failing administration. The British public won’t be fooled.”