BREXITEERS PILE PRES­SURE ON PM

Wales On Sunday - - NEWS - SHAUN CON­NOLLY PA Po­lit­i­cal Cor­re­spon­den news­desk@waleson­line.co.uk

THERESA May has come un­der re­newed pres­sure over Brexit on the eve of the Tory Party con­fer­ence. For­eign Sec­re­tary Boris Johnson has in­sisted any post-with­drawal tran­si­tion pe­riod must not last “a sec­ond more” than two years, while some se­nior Con­ser­va­tives have said Bri­tain should walk away from Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions by Christ­mas if no se­ri­ous progress is be­ing made.

Mr Johnson told The Sun the UK should not have to abide by any new EU rules dur­ing the tran­si­tion pe­riod and that Bri­tain should not make pay­ments to Brus­sels after it.

He said there can be “no mon­key­ing around” about with­drawal from the EU.

The move came as a letter to the Prime Min­is­ter from se­nior pro-Brexit Tory MPs and business fig­ures in the Leave Means Leave group stated: “If the EU is not se­ri­ously ne­go­ti­at­ing a free trade deal by Christ­mas 2017, the Gov­ern­ment should give for­mal no­tice that we will move to World Trade Or­gan­i­sa­tion rules in March 2019.”

Sig­na­to­ries call­ing for the hard­line stance in­clude former Brexit min­is­ter and Cl­wyd West MP David Jones. The is­sue is set to fea­ture heav­ily at the Tory con­fer­ence, which be­gins to­day.

However Scot­tish Tory leader Ruth David­son called for “se­ri­ous peo­ple” to take charge of the Brexit process.

The in­ter­ven­tions came as Mrs May at­tempts to as­sert her grip on her party ahead of its an­nual gath­er­ing.

As the party faith­ful con­verges on Manch­ester, the Prime Min­is­ter in­sisted Labour was “un­fit to gov­ern” as she pledged to lis­ten to the con­cerns of young vot­ers, after the Tories lost their Com­mons ma­jor­ity in the snap gen­eral elec­tion in June.

Mrs May said: “As Con­ser­va­tives we have a vision of a country that works for ev­ery­one, not just the priv­i­leged few – pre­cisely the di­rec­tion I set when I be­came Prime Min­is­ter last year.

“I un­der­stand the con­cerns raised, par­tic­u­larly by young peo­ple, dur­ing what was a dis­ap­point­ing elec­tion for my party.

“So my de­ter­mi­na­tion to act on those con­cerns and cru­cially, to ful­fil the prom­ise of my first speech on the steps of Down­ing Street, is greater than ever.”

Mrs May added that the con­fer­ence would see the party “set­ting out our road to a bet­ter fu­ture for you and your fam­ily”.

She said: “Yes, we have to get the best Brexit deal – but we must also take action here at home to make this a fairer place to live for or­di­nary work­ing peo­ple.

“The so­cial con­tract in our country is that the next gen­er­a­tion should al­ways have it bet­ter than the last.

“Con­ser­va­tives have a plan to make that a re­al­ity.”

With most polls putting the Tories and Labour neck and neck, Mrs May said a vote for Jeremy Cor­byn as prime min­is­ter was too risky.

Mr Johnson, who in­sisted he was fully sup­port­ive of Mrs May, is also urg­ing work­ers to be given a pay hike as he in­sisted the cur­rent min­i­mum wage of £7.50 an hour – ris­ing to £9 by 2020 – is “not enough”.

He told The Sun: “I want peo­ple to be paid more.

“Peo­ple get up un­be­liev­ably early and they work un­be­liev­ably hard, they de­serve to be prop­erly paid.”

The com­ments came as Mrs May told Tory sup­port­ers that this week’s party con­fer­ence is a chance for the Con­ser­va­tives to look to the fu­ture after a “dis­ap­point­ing” gen­eral elec­tion.

VIR­GINIA MAYO

Theresa May must over­come Brexit divi­sions within her party

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