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PM May tells divided party: Don't play politics with my Brexit plan

05 October 2018

Britain's former foreign minister, Boris Johnson, called on the Conservative Party to chuck out Prime Minister Theresa May's "Chequers" Brexit proposals which he said were an attempt to mislead British voters.

The BBC's Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg wrote on Twitter: "This is what we would euphemistically call a "wide-ranging speech" - a blatant pitch for leadership by Johnson, right in heart of conference where May meant to be in charge".

He also urged increased spending on the public health service.

If the European Union want a deal, they need to get serious.

Tory MPs lined up to condemn Theresa May's Brexit blueprint - with warnings that her own future and the party's electoral changes are in jeopardy as a result of the plan. But he was quick to add he would stick by May, if not her plan, at least for now.

Johnson is not speaking from the stage at this year's conference, after walking out of cabinet in July in protest at the plan agreed at Chequers for the UK's future relationship with the EU.

"We must on no account follow (Labour leader Jeremy) Corbyn, and start to treat capitalism as a kind of boo word", he will say, according to excerpts of his speech. "This is the moment to chuck Chequers".

But his scheduled speech on the fringe of the gathering on Tuesday is the most hotly-anticipated event of the four-day conference, with widespread expectations he will use it to step up his assault on the PM's plans.

"We will continue to do that investigation and deal with it seriously and properly", he said.

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"Am I disappointed (that he didn't declare)?"

But Mr Lewis said: "Boris was at Chequers, he resigned after Chequers, I don't think his position is news to anybody, it's a position he has held for the last few months".

That meeting was widely dubbed an ambush, and it left the Prime Minister further bruised.

Johnson suggested the party back one of May's earlier Brexit plans which he accuses her of ditching, and joked about a newspaper report that finance minister Philip Hammond did not think Johnson would become prime minister.

And he warned: "If we get it wrong - if we bottle Brexit now - believe me, the people of this country will find it hard to forgive". May, under fire from critics in Brussels, opponents at home and some lawmakers in her own party, has said talks on a divorce deal are at an impasse.

"They are trying to betray Brexit and we are here today to tell them "we won't let you get away with doing that".

May's team had hoped the conference would hand her a platform to revitalize a pledge she made when she became prime minister in 2016 to help those people who are "just about managing" and try to steal the initiative from Labour.

In a speech to his Conservative party conference in Birmingham, central England, Dominic Raab will repeat London's threat to walk away if it can not get a deal it wants. Only handfuls turned out to hear ministers' speeches in the main hall.

Mr Johnson then went on to give his views on the Good Friday agreement, which Mrs May's partner in government - DUP leader Arlene Foster - yesterday said was not "sacrosanct" while also praising the "belief" and "spirits" set out in Boris Johnson's Brexit plan.

PM May tells divided party: Don't play politics with my Brexit plan