Theresa May Beats Back Her Critics Over Brexit

Posted October 04, 2018

Theresa May promised an end to austerity after an eight-year squeeze on spending as she closed a turbulent Conservative conference with a commitment to secure a Brexit that delivers for the entire country.

She added: "For too long people have felt they have been ignored on immigration and that politicians have not taken their concerns seriously enough".

It was a warm welcome for a leader whose fragile position at the helm of her party has come under further pressure after the European Union rejected parts of her so-called Chequers plan and critics stepped up calls for her to ditch her strategy on Brexit, Britain's most far-reaching policy shift for more than 40 years.

"And there's another reason why we need to come together".

The major immigration overhaul announcement is being seen as a counter-point to the arrival at the conference of the British PM's key Brexit rival, former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who is due to make a speech attacking her strategy on negotiating an exit deal with the EU.

Writing talk Mrs May puts the finishing touches to her keynote speech
Writing talk Mrs May puts the finishing touches to her keynote speech

He said: "The danger of this Irish backstop has the potential to not only separate Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom and any future diversion there may be from it, but it also has the potential to shackle the United Kingdom for generations to come in its relationship with Europe".

But she insisted the option of leaving the European Union without an overall deal must be kept on the table.

It was the most calamitous conference speech anyone can remember and it was hard not to feel sorry for Theresa May at that moment when everything that could have gone wrong did for the prime minister, who had arrived in the north politically vulnerable and desperately needing all the luck and reassurance she could get from her party after the humiliating election result four months earlier.

At any rate, her entrance at the Conservative Party Conference - set to ABBA's "Dancing Queen", naturally - wasn't just a self-deprecating reference to the recent viral video of her rather unconventional dance moves.

"We can not outsource our conscience to the Kremlin", she said.

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'He wants to tear up our guarantee to the people of Northern Ireland.

Johnson's speech was a leadership pitch in all but name, and many Conservatives expect May to face a party coup soon after Brexit day - or even before, if there is no progress toward a deal.

The prime minister will brush off weeks of Tory in-fighting over the Brexit negotiations with a speech titled "the future is in our hands".

Many ministers addressing the main stage in Birmingham have turned their sights on leftist leader Jeremy Corbyn, a theme expected to be echoed by May.

The EU has rejected her proposed Brexit deal and demanded new ideas from Britain.

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She said current EU proposals would effectively leave NI in the Custom's Union, unlike other parts of the UK.

Speaking to BBC Radio Four at the Conservative Party conference, Foster said "There can not be a border down the Irish Sea, a differential between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK".

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Arlene Foster has suggested that the restored Northern Ireland Assembly would be able to pass an equal marriage law.

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