Britain’s PM Theresa May dances onto stage

‘Dancing Theresa May’ urges unity for Brexit talks

Former British foreign minister Boris Johnson set out his stall to the Conservative Party faithful on Tuesday (2 October), stopping just short of an outright leadership bid to replace Prime Minister Theresa May but tearing into her Brexit blueprin, write Elizabeth Piper, Kylie MacLellan and William James.

"If we all go off in different directions in pursuit of our own vision of the flawless Brexit, we risk ending up with no Brexit at all", she warned a Conservative party beset by internal bickering.

Dancing onto the stage to the tune of Swedish pop group ABBA's hit "Dancing Queen", May mocked herself, jokingly saying if she lost her voice it was because she had been up half of the night super gluing the stage set.

Telling party delegates to "chuck Chequers" (after calling her plans "deranged" last week) Johnson said he wanted to "stop a ridiculous seeping away of our self-belief".

At the Conservative Party conference this week, the Prime Minister made a direct appeal to her fractious party to rally behind her by declaring Britain's future outside the European Union is "full of promise".

Then the thing we saw immediately afterwards was that tweet about the Strepsils and the speech and we laughed along with her and she showed that humorous side of her. "If we all go off in different directions in pursuit of our own vision of the flawless Brexit, we risk ending up with no Brexit at all", she said, a rebuff to euro-sceptic lawmakers who have published their alternative plan for leaving the EU. In an upbeat message to activists and voters, she declared: "If we come together, there is no limit to what we can achieve".

"We need to negotiate on something based on the Chequers proposals", he said.

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"Despite the United Kingdom government's rejection of the original EU backstop proposal, we will not give up seeking a workable solution that fully respects the Good Friday Agreement as well as the integrity of the Single Market and the customs union". "But if we stick together and hold our nerve I know we can get a deal that delivers for Britain".

"So why say May's speech slightly surprised me in a positive sense is that somebody's obviously got her antenna going again for her to be sensitive to that".

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". Forty-eight such letters are needed to trigger a vote of confidence in the leader.

Asked what she thought of Johnson's speech, May told Sky News that Johnson had put in a characteristically good performance. She also signalled an end to the almost decade-long austerity drive.

And she warned she was ready to take further action against utility firms which punish loyal customers with higher prices.

Brexit negotiations are at a "really critical point" and people should support the prime minister, he said.

Taking a swipe at hardline eurosceptic Mr Johnson, Mrs May said she was making decisions on Brexit in the "national interest" - a nod to her argument that her former foreign secretary's alternative Brexit proposals would tear the United Kingdom apart by placing Northern Ireland under European Union customs rules and thereby detaching it from the rest of Britain. No taking Britain back to square one.

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