End divisions or put Brexit at risk, Theresa May tells party

07 October, 2018, 13:59 | Author: Darnell Patrick
  • Jacob Rees Mogg attends a fringe event to discuss Brexit during the Conservative Party annual conference in Birmingham

As Theresa May jigged out onto the stage at the Conservative Party conference to give her keynote speech, I had to ask myself, last year it was coughing, what's the affliction this year - until I realised she was dancing - to Abba's Dancing Queen coming over the sound system.

Standing firmly by her Brexit plan, denounced by Boris Johnson as a "constitutional outrage" at a conference fringe event on Tuesday, she promised: "If we stick together and hold our nerve, I know we can get a deal that delivers for Britain".

"If we all go off in different directions in pursuit of our own vision of the ideal Brexit, we risk ending up with no Brexit at all", she said in a clear nod to eurosceptic legislators who have published their alternative plan for leaving the EU.

May's unexpectedly disarming conference speech followed, exhorting the party to come together, or Brexit is at risk.

She said: "It's for them that we cut income tax". Whereas I have never been a huge fan of "attack your opponent to strengthen your position" technique, May did point out a fact about the Labour Party - it has not been the same since Corbyn had taken leadership in 2015.

"In Northern Ireland we've grown up with a lot of fears and issues that we've faced; frankly, being afraid of what Theresa May may do is not one of my biggest fears", Nigel Dodds, a DUP leader, told the Guardian this week.

"But now that the Congress of the conservative Party is finished, we should get back to work", said the european leader.

One however has submitted a letter of no confidence in his leader.


He said he wanted to force May to reverse her bid to keep close economic ties with the European Union once Britain leaves in March.

Johnson's opposition to Theresa May's Chequers proposal led to his resignation in July, the same day as former Brexit secretary David Davis.

But Wednesday's speech seemed to have gone down well among the party faithful.

"I'm surprised I'm going to say it, but what I caught of the prime minister's closing speech, she positively surprised me", he told CNBC's "Squawk Box Europe" on Thursday. "Firmness of goal, clarity and conviction - European Union friends do not underestimate!"

Mrs May said her Brexit plan would end free movement, stop vast annual payments to Brussels and allow Britain to start signing trade deals with other countries, as well as pulling the country out of the Common Fisheries Policy and Common Agricultural Policy. May also name-checked The Bodyguard, admitting she's been too busy with Brexit to watch it: "'[Politics is] not always glamorous, I've seen the trailers for the bodyguard and let me tell you, it wasn't like that in my day". She was clearly angry but she carried on doing what is right for the country.

The EU wants "the best relations possible" with London after the Brexit, but it will definitely not "core values and interests the key", stressed Mr Tusk, noting that the 27 remaining states, "behind Ireland and the need to preserve the peace process in Northern Ireland".

That's why alongside the discussions about Brexit, actually what this conference has been focusing on is the changes we're making to people in terms of things like putting extra money into social care, to ensure we're dealing with the winter pressures, to the commitment we've already made for more money for the National Health Service, the changes we're making in the apprenticeship levy, to ensure that we get those good apprenticeships available for our young people. This is not taking back control: "this is forfeiting control", he said. Good for jobs, good for the union. Did she take into account "the people" from different countries, who have lived here for years or only those with British passports?

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