May up­beat on UK’s post-Brexit fu­ture

China Daily (Canada) - - HOLIDAY - By JONATHAN POW­ELL in Lon­don jonathan@ mail.chi­nadai­

Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May sought to re­assert her author­ity with her key­note ad­dress to the Con­ser­va­tives’ an­nual con­fer­ence on Wed­nes­day, a day af­ter Boris John­son made an overt pitch for the lead­er­ship of the party.

Min­utes be­fore May lit­er­ally danced on to the stage to make her speech in Birm­ing­ham, Eng­land, in a self-dep­re­cat­ing nod to her much-mocked danc­ing dur­ing a trip to Africa ear­lier this year, Con­ser­va­tive MP James Dud­dridge sub­mit­ted a let­ter of no-con­fi­dence, urg­ing her to quit as party leader.

May is un­der huge pres­sure to unite her party at the end of a con­fer­ence which has exposed deep splits over her ap­proach to Brexit.

Bri­tain’s post-Brexit fu­ture is “full of prom­ise” and the coun­try’s “best days lie ahead of us”, in­sisted May, while also warn­ing about the dan­gers of Jeremy Cor­byn’s buoy­ant Labour party.

She said: “Mil­lions of peo­ple who have never sup­ported our party in the past are ap­palled by what Jeremy Cor­byn has done to Labour.

“Don’t let any­one tell you we don’t have what it takes: we have ev­ery­thing we need to suc­ceed.

“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.”

On Tues­day, Boris John­son had made a lead­er­ship pitch by spell­ing out his own do­mes­tic pol­icy agenda in a 40-minute speech in which he called for a re­turn to op­ti­mism and said that the gov­ern­ment should tackle the hous­ing cri­sis.

John­son said: “If I have a func­tion here to­day it is to try, with all hu­mil­ity, to put some lead in the col­lec­tive pen­cil, to stop what seems to me to be a ridicu­lous seep­ing away of our self-be­lief, and to in­vite you to feel re­al­is­tic and jus­ti­fied con­fi­dence in what we can do.”

Speak­ing on the BBC’s To­day pro­gram on Wed­nes­day morn­ing, Dud­dridge, a Brex­iter and a sup­porter of John­son, said that the Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions had been “an ab­so­lute dis­as­ter” and that May was not pro­vid­ing proper lead­er­ship.

He told the pro­gram: “We need a strong leader and we haven’t got that at the moment.

“Boris yes­ter­day was inspirational, mo­ti­va­tional and ral­lied the troops, ral­lied politi­cians, some­thing you could get be­hind, and that’s what we need, we need a leader not a chief ex­ec­u­tive, an ad­min­is­tra­tor, we need a vi­sion to go for­ward and that’s what Boris pre­sented yes­ter­day.”

Mean­while, David Lid­ing­ton, the Cab­i­net Of­fice min­is­ter and May’s de facto deputy, told gath­ered me­dia that John­son did not pro­vide new an­swers to Bri­tain’s Brexit prob­lems in his speech.

Asked about the for­mer for­eign sec­re­tary’s in­ter­ven­tion, Lid­ing­ton said: “He’s al­ways got some well-crafted lines and it’s the end-of-the-pier show sort of event. What he’s not done is, I think, pro­vide any new an­swers to some of the ques­tions that have been raised.”

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