Published: Sat, October 06, 2018
Money | By Ralph Mccoy

May appeals for party unity at ‘toughest phase’ of Brexit

May appeals for party unity at ‘toughest phase’ of Brexit

EU President Donald Tusk warned Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday that, with her Conservative Party conference finished, she must make a serious effort to negotiate a Brexit deal.

Earlier this week Prime Minister Theresa May announced she has scheduled 2022 as the year to hold a £120million "Festival of Britain" when Brexit Britain has fully left the Brussels club.

But she did her best to appear carefree as she sashayed on to the stage to the Abba hit Dancing Queen - a reference to the much-shared video of her dancing on a trip to Africa - and joked about the coughing fit and collapsing stage backdrop which marred her calamitous conference speech in Manchester a year ago.

Showing little sign of considering changes to her Brexit blueprint, May said it was only her Chequers plan that could uphold the unity of the United Kingdom and declined to speculate on whether she could see Johnson as a future prime minister.

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

She appealed for unity in her party, warning her critics that if they split over their "own visions of the ideal Brexit", they might not get it at all. In an upbeat message to activists and voters, she declared: "If we come together, there is no limit to what we can achieve". We are entering the toughest part of the negotiations... "We have had disagreements in this party about Britain's membership of the European Union for a long time.

A second referendum would be a "politicians" vote': politicians telling people they got it wrong the first time and should try again", she said, adding it would risk the people's trust in politics by not honouring the outcome of the 2016 referendum.

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An undeterred May called on her colleagues to work towards making the Conservatives a party "not for the few, not even for the many but for everyone who is willing to work hard and do their best".

She also signalled a loosening of the national purse strings for a new cancer-detection strategy and a boost for housebuilding.

Her words were aimed at easing the growing frustration of some Conservatives who openly say their party is meandering without substantive new ideas, unable to set an agenda amid their divisive feuds over how to depart the EU. "Firmness of objective, clarity and conviction - European Union friends do not underestimate!"

"It is no surprise that we have had a range of different views expressed this week", Mrs May said.

Ally of former Prime Minister David Cameron, Sir Oliver Letwin, said that Mrs May had the bureaucratic ability to deliver what he sees as an acceptable Brexit, but that she lacks the vision or policies to lead the Tories into another election. "That is the approach I have taken on Brexit", she said. Sometimes it comes out, sometimes she hides it away, but she is a really strong woman, a really strong prime minister and I really hope that comes across in the speech. No taking Britain back to square one.

In her speech, May promised to deliver the Brexit the British people had voted for and there would be no referendum or people's vote - laid into the prospect of a Labour government led by its leader Jeremy Corbyn.

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