May banking on Brexit to keep her as premier

Fredrick Soto
October 7, 2018

"Look, Boris (Johnson) always puts on a good show, but what matters to people is what we're delivering for them on the things that affect their day-to-day lives", she said on Tuesday.

All eyes may be on Theresa May as she addresses the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham on Wednesday - but numerous paper's column inches are dedicated to a fellow top Tory: Boris Johnson.

His remarks came one day ahead of the long-expected speech of the Prime Minister at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham, Xinhua news agency reported.

No longer calling it "the Chequers deal" after badges bearing the slogan "chuck Chequers" have sold a job lot at the party conference, the new "free trade deal" she said, is the only way of securing a decent future.

Robert Halfon, the MP for Harlow, said he was encouraged that the prime minister appeared to have returned to some of the concerns she set out when she first arrived in Downing Street.

Eurosceptic MPs led by former foreign minister Boris Johnson have held a string of packed fringe meetings to argue against May's proposal for Britain to follow European Union trade rules on goods after it leaves.

However, she also warned that there would be "no return to the uncontrolled borrowing of the past, no undoing all the progress of the last eight years, no taking Britain back to square one". Ready to get going on the meat of it, though?

"And there's another reason why we need to come together". What else did she say in this speech?

She defended her Chequers plan once again, saying it is one that "delivers on the vote of the British people", she said, adding that "it means we take back control of our money, our borders and our laws".

"Despite the United Kingdom government's rejection of the original EU backstop proposal, we will not give up seeking a workable solution that fully respects the Good Friday Agreement as well as the integrity of the Single Market and the customs union".

On Wednesday, she was keen to show she was in charge of the Brexit talks.

May danced a little jig to the strains of ABBA's "Dancing Queen" as she approached the podium for her address at the ruling Conservative Party's annual gathering. And many in her own Conservative Party oppose it, too.

Speaking to Tory delegates Wednesday, May focused on repairing party unity, Brexit and, of course, made obligatory attacks on the oppositional Labour Party. Nevertheless, factional agitating in the Conservative Party continues, depleting May's opponents of political energy and capital.

May acknowledged that Johnson's speech had made her "cross" but said she was sticking to her Brexit blueprint, which would keep Britain aligned to many European Union rules in return for remaining in the bloc's single market for goods.

"And it would protect our precious Union - the seamless border in Northern Ireland, a bedrock of peace and stability, would see no change whatsoever".

"We should try to get as much of a final deal as we can get by 29 March, but it's self-evident that if it's a bilateral treaty, it can be revised later on", he told Bloomberg. Many Conservatives expect her to face a leadership challenge soon after Britain leaves the bloc - or even before. If we all go off in our different directions...we risk ending up with no Brexit at all.' But was it enough to bind all the flailing, angry limbs of our political ecosystem?

Any spending increases would not be expected to kick in until next year's spending review in any event; but it will be hard for the chancellor to avoid a shift of tone, after her upbeat rhetoric about voters' sacrifices paying off.

Perhaps it is exactly what the Tories and their supporters needed to hear amidst the chaotic several months they have been experiencing - polarisation in opinions on Brexit, Britain's position in the global economy, issues of housing and energy.

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