Theresa May warned Tories there is no ‘perfect Brexit’ today as she made a desperate appeal for unity behind her Chequers plan.
After a gathering in Birmingham marred by civil war over her Chequers blueprint, the PM urged activists to put aside their differences – saying failure to do so risked hard-Left Labour seizing power and the process of leaving the EU being stopped altogether.
But she also delivered a stark warning to Brussels that the UK is ‘not afraid’ to leave without a deal if it does not compromise.
Amid frantic leadership manoeuvring by Boris Johnson, Mrs May swiped at his ‘f*** business’ response when being told about Brexit anxieties at a private meeting, and tried to show she has a positive vision of the country’s future to match that of her bitter rival.
She pointed to a new ‘global’ immigration system, crackdown on property investors from abroad, and fuel duty freeze as evidence that she can make the country work for ordinary people – adding that it was time for austerity to end.
Mrs May also demonstrated a rarely-seen sense of humour by coming on stage to ‘Dancing Queen’ by Abba, emulating her famous moves from a trip to Africa last month, prompting rapturous applause from the crowd.
In a reference to last year’s conference debacle when letters fell of the set behind her, she then joked that she had been up late sticking the backdrop together with superglue.
Theresa May danced on to stage at Tory conference today and was cheered to the rafters by activists as she made light of her own political woes
As ‘Dancing Queen’ by Abba played, Mrs May emulated her famous dance moves from a trip to Africa last month and received rapturous applause from the party faithful.
In a reference to last year’s conference debacle when letters fell of the set behind her, she then joked that she had been up late sticking the backdrop together with superglue
Without using the word ‘Chequers’ once, Mrs May pleaded with activists to get behind her on Brexit, insisting she would ‘never betray’ the referendum result and saying her proposals are the only way to keep the UK together and protect jobs.
Saying Tories had to ‘face up to what is at risk’, she told the crowd that many people wanted to reverse the result of the referendum and Labour were exploiting Brexit to seize power.
‘We have had disagreements in this party about Britain’s membership of the EU for a long time,’ Mrs May admitted.
‘So, it is no surprise that we have had a range of different views expressed this week.
Corbyn has destroyed the Labour Party and must be stopped from hurting Britain, May warns
Jeremy Corbyn has destroyed the Labour Party and replaced it with a new one in his own image, Theresa May warned today.
The Prime Minister launched a furious attack on the Labour leader for seizing control of the party of Clement Attlee and Neil Kinnock.
She said in the Commons moderate Labour MPs stared ‘blankly’ from the backbenches with the new party monopolising the front bench.
She said: ‘What has befallen Labour is a national tragedy.
‘What has it come to when Jewish families today seriously discuss where they should go if Jeremy Corbyn becomes prime minister?
‘When a leading Labour MP says his party is ‘institutionally racist’?
‘When the leader of the Labour Party is happy to appear on Iranian state TV but attacks our free media here in Britain?
‘That is what Jeremy Corbyn has done to the Labour Party. It is our duty, in this Conservative Party, to make sure he can never do it to our country.’
Later in the speech in a section on Russia and national security, Mrs May said Mr Corbyn ‘poses as a humanitarian’ but says action can only be taken if backed by Security Council.
She warned: ‘We cannot outsource our conscience to the Kremlin’
‘But my job as Prime Minister is to do what I believe is in the national interest.’
She added: ‘Those of us who do respect the result – whichever side of the question we stood on two years ago – need to come together now.
‘If we don’t – if we all go off in different directions in pursuit of our own visions of the perfect Brexit – we risk ending up with no Brexit at all.’
But the premier also delivered a stark warning to Brussels that the UK will leave without a deal if it does not compromise.
‘No one wants a good deal more than me. But that has never meant getting a deal at any cost,’ she said.
‘Britain isn’t afraid to leave with no deal if we have to.’
She warned that crashing out without a deal would mean introducing tariffs and costly checks at the border.
The PM also announced that austerity will end after she has delivered Brexit as she insisted the Tories can spell out a positive domestic agenda and not just rein in spending.
Mrs May has been heavily criticised by her own MPs for failing to come up with new domestic policies or the money needed to properly find schools, hospitals and local councils.
But in a radical departure, she said the spending taps would be turned back on after Brexit as ‘after a decade of austerity, people need to know that their hard work has paid off.
She said: ‘We are not just a party to clean up a mess, we are a party to steer a course to a better future.
‘Sound finances are essential, but they are not the limit of our ambition. Because you made sacrifices, there are better days ahead.
‘So, when we’ve secured a good Brexit deal for Britain, at the spending review next year we will set out our approach to the future.
‘Debt as a share of the economy will continue to go down, support for public services will go up.
‘Because, a decade after the financial crash, people need to know that the austerity it led to is over and that their hard work has paid off.’
In a pitch to younger voters, Mrs May renewed her determination to tackle the housing crisis.
She said councils would be given the green light to borrow more money to build affordable housing.
Mrs May’s speech was a make-or-break moment as she faces a huge revolt from Eurosceptics over her Brexit plan
Mrs May showed off her rarely-seen sense of humour today as she boogied, to the delight of Tory members in the hall
A clearly relieved PM was embraced by husband Philip after she made it to the end of her speech without losing her voice – as had happened last year
The PM said local authorities would no longer be capped on how much they can borrow against their Housing Revenue Account assets – effectively leveraging current council homes to free up cash to build more.
She told the conference: ‘Solving the housing crisis is the biggest domestic policy challenge of our generation.
‘It doesn’t make sense to stop councils from playing their part in solving it.
What policies and announcements did Theresa May and the Tories make at their 2018 conference?
Here are the main announcements made by Theresa May at her Conservative Party conference:
In the biggest overhaul of the system in decades, the Tories said they will end EU free movement after Brexit and bring in a new skills-based system.
From January 2021, European immigrants will be treated the same as immigrants from elsewhere.
European migrants will have to apply for work visas and meet a minimum salary threshold before they are allowed to move to the UK.
There will be ‘temporary’ exemptions for areas of the economy dependent on low-skilled migrants but businesses will be told to train up British workers.
Freezing fuel duty:
Theresa May announced a freeze on fuel duty for the ninth year in a row.
Chancellor Philip Hammond is to scrap a scheduled 2p-a-litre rise at the pumps in his October 29 Budget.
A new tax on foreign property buyers will be introduced to help tackle rough sleeping.
They face a surcharge of 1 per cent or 3 per cent on top of stamp duty to stop them driving up UK prices.
A new cancer strategy which will unrease early detection rates from one in two to three in four by 2028.
They will lower the age of bowel screening from 60 to 50 years-old and build more rapid diagnostic centres.
On Jeremy Corbyn:
Theresa May called for ‘decent, moderate, patriotic’ Britons to come together to keep ‘appalling’ Jeremy Corbyn out of power.
She said: ‘What has it come to when Jewish families are seriously discussing where to go if Jeremy Corbyn becomes Prime Minister…
‘That is what Jeremy Corbyn has done to the Labour Party. It is our duty in this Conservative Party to make sure he can never do it to our country.’
The PM warned against chasing an impossible vision of a perfect Brexit – and urged her party to unite and back her plan.
She said: ‘Those of us who do respect the result – whichever side of the question we stood on two years ago – need to come together now.
‘If we don’t – if we all go off in different directions in pursuit of our own visions of the perfect Brexit – we risk ending up with no Brexit at all.’
‘So today I can announce that we are scrapping that cap.
‘We will help you get on the housing ladder and we will build the homes this country needs.’
The hotly-awaited conference speech was a make or break moment for Mrs May as she battles to win over restive grass roots to Brexit deal.
Her address will inevitably be compared to the barn-storming appearance by Boris Johnson yesterday.
Shortly before she was due to take to her feet, long-term critic James Duddridge MP announced that he had sent a letter to the powerful Tory 1922 committee asking for a vote of no confidence.
Like last year’s event – when a prankster presented her with a fake P45 on stage and then she lost her voice – Mrs May has a heavy cold, but aides insist she is up to putting on a show.
The former foreign secretary was cheered to the rafters by around 1,500 Tory rank-and-file as he condemned the PM’s Chequers plan for Brexit as an ‘outrage’.
The speech was hailed by Eurosceptic MPs – but allies of Mrs May lashed back by accusing Mr Johnson of ‘grotesque self-indulgence’ and said he was putting ‘ambition’ over the national interest.
In her speech, Mrs May called for ‘decent, moderate, patriotic’ Britons to come together to keep ‘appalling’ Jeremy Corbyn out of power.
Mrs May delivered a devastating assault on ‘appalling’ Jeremy Corbyn – hammering him for Labour’s anti-Semitism crisis and jibing that he had preferred to take Russia’s side over the Salisbury nerve agent outrage.
She said it was dreadful that the Jewish community was so concerned about the prospect of Mr Corbyn taking power that they were considering leaving the UK.
‘What has it come to when Jewish families are seriously discussing where to go if Jeremy Corbyn becomes Prime Minister,’ she said.
‘When the leader of the Labour Party is happen to appear on Iranian state TV but attacks our free media here in Great Britain.
‘That is what Jeremy Corbyn has done to the Labour Party.
‘It is our duty in this Conservative Party to make sure he can never do it to our country.’
She adapted Labour’s ‘For the many, not the few’ slogan as she declared that the Conservatives are ‘a party not for the few, not even for the many, but for everyone who is willing to work hard and do their best’.
Mrs May insisted abuse in politics was a major and growing problem, speaking up for Labour’s Diane Abbott who is the most targeted politician in the country.
‘The first black woman ever to be elected to the House of Commons receives more racist and misogynist messages today than when she first stood over 30 years ago,’ she said.
‘You do not have to agree with a word Diane Abbott says to believe passionately in her right to say it, free from threats and abuse.
‘Some people have lost sight of the fact that political differences are not everything.’
Mrs May warned that ‘no party has a monopoly on good ideas’. ‘Getting things done requires working together,’ she added.
The PM called on politicians on all sides to ‘rise above’ the abuse and recalled the murdered MP Jo Cox to declare: ‘There is more that unites us than divides us.’
The Prime Minister said: ‘Millions of people who have never supported our party in the past are appalled by what Jeremy Corbyn has done to Labour.
‘They want to support a party that is decent, moderate and patriotic. One that puts the national interest first. Delivers on the issues they care about. And is comfortable with modern Britain in all its diversity.
Cabinet ministers including (left to right) Dominic Raab, Jeremy Hunt, Sajid Javid, Philip Hammond and Brandon Lewis were on hand to hear the address from the Tory leader today
Michael Gove (pictured right) looked highly amused by Mrs May’s antics during her conference speech today (left)
Theresa May and husband Philip appeared to have chosen matching outfits for her conference speech in Birmingham today
Diane Abbott was less than impressed by the PM’s defence of her from vile abuse, saying ‘nice words’ were undermined by ‘personal attacks’ during the election campaign
‘We must show everyone in this country that we are that party.
‘A party that conserves the best of our inheritance but is not afraid of change. A party of patriotism but not nationalism. A party that believes in business but is not afraid to hold businesses to account.
‘A party that believes in the good that government can do but knows that government will never have all the answers. A party that believes your success in life should not be defined by who you love, your faith, the colour of your skin, who your parents were, or where you were raised – but by your talent and hard work.
Dancing May laughs off her 2017 disaster with gags about the Bodyguard and her cough
Theresa May danced onto stage for her Tory Party conference speech today as she consigned last year’s disaster to history with jokes.
Mocking the dance moves she made during a recent visit to Africa, which went viral, the Prime Minister arrived in the hall dancing to Abba’s Dancing Queen.
Mrs May’s speech last year was beset by a series of disasters – a prankster served her with a joke P45, she suffered a coughing fit and the letters on the set behind her fell off as she ploughed on with her address.
The PM told Tory activists: ‘Can I just say, you will have to excuse me if I cough during the speech.
‘I’ve been up all night super-gluing the backdrop.’
Mrs May also joked: ‘It’s not always glamorous. I have seen the trailers for Bodyguard – and let me tell you it was not like that in my day.’
‘Above all a party of Unionism, not just of four proud nations, but of all our people.
‘A party not for the few, not even for the many, but for everyone who is willing to work hard and do their best.’
Mrs May took to the stage at the Conservative Conference in Birmingham less than 24 hours after 1,500 delegates gave a thunderous standing ovation to Boris Johnson as he branded her Brexit plans a ‘constitutional outrage’ that would humiliate Britain.
Mr Johnson’s demand for the PM to ‘chuck Chequers’ has echoed around the corridors and fringe meetings at a gathering riven by profound differences over the best approach to Britain’s EU withdrawal.
But he stopped short of a direct challenge to her leadership, urging Tories to encourage her to ditch the plan agreed at her country residence and return to a harder Brexit blueprint.
Mrs May said yesterday she was ‘cross’ with her former foreign secretary, accusing him of being ready to ‘tear up’ her guarantee to the people of Northern Ireland that there would be no customs border down the Irish Sea.
Conservative MP James Duddridge renewed hostilities between the warring factions today, saying he had ‘no confidence in her leadership over delivering Brexit’.
But in her speech, Mrs May swiped at Mr Johnson over his barb about business concerns about Brexit – when he replied ‘f*** business’.
She told activists: ‘To all businesses, large and small, you may have heard that there is a four-letter word to describe what we Conservatives want to do to you.
‘It has a single syllable. It is of Anglo-Saxon derivation. It ends in the letter k.
‘Back business. Back them to create jobs and build prosperity. Back them to drive innovation and improve lives.
‘Back them with the lowest corporation tax in the G20.
‘Britain, under my Conservative government is open for business.’
In her speech, Mrs May pleaded with ‘decent patriots’ to unite behind her today saying Britain’s ‘best days lie ahead’.
Insisting she has a positive vision matching that Mr Johnson, she pointed to a new ‘global’ immigration system, crackdown on property investors from abroad, and fuel duty freeze as evidence that she can make the country work for ordinary people.
‘I passionately believe that our best days lie ahead of us and that our future is full of promise,’ she said.
‘Don’t let anyone tell you we don’t have what it takes: we have everything we need to succeed.’
There were also large numbers of activists waiting outside the conference centre today
The PM’s address will inevitably be compared to the barn-storming appearance by Boris Johnson (pictured at his Oxfordshire home today)
‘She was hoping to see another Christmas, but didn’t make it’: May’s voice cracks as she unveils new cancer strategy by recalling agony of goddaughter’s death last summer
Theresa May has told how the death of her goddaughter from cancer made her determined to fund the battle against the disease.
The Prime Minister’s voice broke with emotion as she told the hall at the party’s conference in Birmingham how cancer had touched her life.
She said: ‘Cancer can strike any of us at any time. A few years ago my goddaughter was diagnosed with cancer.
‘She underwent treatment and it seemed to be working, but then the cancer came back.
‘Last summer, she sent me a text to tell me she was hoping to see another Christmas, but she didn’t make it.
Theresa May told today how her goddaughter died from cancer after being diagnosed three years ago
She said her goddaughter told her she wanted to see one more Christmas but died too soon
She continued: ‘Half of us will be diagnosed with cancer, all of us know someone who has been.
‘Survival rates are increasing, but we’re lagging behind other countries, so today I can announce a new cancer strategy.’
She said she wants to increase early detection rates and make sure doctors have the most up to date equipment to tackle the disease.