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Dancing May upbeat about Brexit deal

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

The challenges that May is facingdid little to dampen the gusto of her speech to conservatives Wednesday. Talking up the trade opportunities with Africa, May mentioned that, on her recent visit to South Africa, she met young people who "wanted to be lawyers, they wanted to be doctors, they might have felt inspired to dance...maybe not'". We are entering the toughest part of the negotiations. That "If we stick together and hold our nerve I know we can get a deal that delivers for Britain"? After an awkward dance episode during her visit to Kenya in August had made the wrong kind of headlines, May chose to dance up to the podium to the beats of one of the Swedish band's most enduring songs in an attempt to set a lighter tone to her much-anticipated speech. May is buffeted from all directions, with European officials anxious that the two sides are heading for a messy divorce.

France unveiled a draft law for such a scenario, with the budget minister admitting Paris was preparing "for the worst".

But May's immediate concern was to regain the confidence of her party and present a united front in crucial negotiations with Brussels over the next two weeks. Well, optics-wise, there was very little coughing, and of course, she danced onto the stage to the tune of ABBA's Dancing Queen, laughing at herself in a neat self-referential bid to show the personality she's always been accused of lacking.

"Pursuing our own visions of the ideal Brexit could lead to no Brexit at all, May said, adding that she believed "our best days lie ahead of us".

Her speech will come a day after former foreign secretary Boris Johnson received a rapturous ovation from 1,500 Tories as he called on May to "chuck Chequers" during a packed out fringe meeting. Johnson and others say such a close partnership would ignore the wishes of voters who backed the Brexit referendum in 2016.

Another part of May's quest to show we're all in this together, was to become relevant to the masses: there was a dirty joke about there being a "four letter word...ending in k" that the Conservatives want to do to businesses, and that's "back" them.


"Politicians telling people they got it wrong the first time and should try again. think for a moment what it would do to faith in our democracy", she said, referring to the "latest plan of holding a second referendum" which was called "People's Vote".

The prime minister is also preparing new proposals on a plan B to keep the frontier open if and until a new trade deal could be agreed with the EU.

Second (as George Parker reports), in order to maintain the invisible Irish border, Britain will accept that goods entering Northern Ireland from Britain must meet European Union standards, with the potential for checks in the Irish Sea. These are meant to avoid such checks on the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland itself - something all sides want to avoid. 'I think that's in the interests of Ireland, the European Union and the UK.

But Northern Ireland s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which props ups May s government, this week signalled its strong opposition. MPs must approve any final Brexit deal. Criticism from the left, such as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, is much to be expected - but May has also suffered sharp rebukes from fellow conservatives.

May has surprised observers by surviving this far and many delegates at the conference - whatever their feelings on Brexit - are wary of a change at the top now.

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