UK PM prepares to meet her party faithful in latest Brexit twist

Source: Xinhua| 2018-10-01 02:19:25|Editor: Yamei
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British Prime Minister Theresa May (Xinhua file photo)

LONDON, Sept. 30 (Xinhua) -- British Prime Minister Theresa May has arrived in Birmingham for the last of Britain's big political conferences, with a determination to fight for her Brexit blueprint.

Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson set the scene for a lively event in Britain's second biggest city by describing as deranged May's so-called Chequers plan for a soft-Brexit.

The Sunday Times gave a flavor of the possible atmosphere at the conference with its headline: "Boris Johnson vs Theresa May: now it's war".

In a Sunday television interview, May insisted she would make a success of Britain's departure from the European Union regardless of what happens in the negotiations with Brussels.

May said in her interview: "I do believe in Brexit. Crucially, I believe in delivering Brexit in a way that respects the vote and delivers on the vote of the British people while also protecting our union, protecting jobs and ensuring we make a success of Brexit for the future.

"That's why I'm being ambitious for this country. That's why I want us to get a really good free trade deal with the European Union, which is what lies at the heart of the Chequers plan."

She added: "We will make a success of Brexit, regardless of the outcome of the negotiations."

The Sunday Times said May has launched a concerted campaign to keep her job, announcing a crackdown on foreigners buying homes in Britain and revealing plans for a "historic" festival to celebrate Brexit Britain.

May confronted her critics, accusing those who refuse to back her Chequers blueprint for Brexit of playing politics with Britain's future and undermining the national interest.

May's proposed 156-million-U.S.-dollar festival, is designed to pump billions of dollars into the British economy, echoing Queen Victoria's Great Exhibition in 1851 and the post-war Festival of Britain in 1951.

May said: "We want to showcase what makes our country great today. We want to capture that spirit for a new generation, celebrate our nation's diversity and talent, and mark this moment of national renewal with a once-in-a-generation celebration."

The Sunday Times says May will come under intense pressure from grassroots members to ditch her Chequers proposals. She will also face an ambush at a behind-closed-doors meeting of the Conservative Convention, where party members have put down motions against her plans.

A determined May said: "My message to the Conservative Party is going to be that people voted to leave the EU. I believe it's a matter of trust in politicians that we deliver on that vote for people. The only proposal on the table at the moment that delivers that is the Chequers plan."

Ian Lavery, chair of the main opposition Labor Party accused May of tinkering around the edges rather than rebuilding Britain.

He said: "The Conservatives are clearly too busy fighting among themselves and have neither the ideas nor the desire to offer real solutions to the problems they have caused."

In a separate interview with the Sunday Times, Johnson said "There will be economic and political damage to the UK if we go with Chequers. It surrenders control."

He added: "Unlike the prime minister, I campaigned for Brexit. Unlike the prime minister, I fought for this, I believe in it, I think it's the right thing for our country and I think that what is happening now is alas not what people were promised in 2016."

Johnson has also published his own manifesto program, saying the ambitious HS2 south-north high speed rail should be overtaken by a fast rail heading west to east across northern Britain. He also suggests building a bridge linking the British mainland with the island of Ireland.

Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab addresses the conference Monday morning, but all eyes will focus on Wednesday morning when May makes her main keynote speech at the closing session of the gathering.

Last year May struggled through her speech because of a throat problem, not helped by some of the conference backdrop falling away as the world watched. This time conference managers are leaving nothing to chance. It will give May a clear indication of whether her Chequers Brexit plan has widespread support among the party loyalists.