The Brexit Update News RoundUp

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Deep divisions over Brexit overshadowed the opening day of the Conservative party conference on Sunday as Theresa May attempted to wrestle back the focus on to her domestic agenda.

The bitter infighting that has crippled the Conservative party was laid bare as Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg laid into the prime minister’s Brexit plans as thousands of delegates gathered in Birmingham.

Prime Minister Theresa May called on her party on Sunday to unite behind her plan to leave the European Union, making a direct appeal to critics by saying their desire for a free trade deal was at the heart of her Brexit proposals.

“My message to my party is let’s come together and get the best deal for Britain,” May told the BBC in the central English city of Birmingham.

“At the heart of the Chequers plan is a free trade deal, a free trade area and frictionless trade … Chequers at the moment is the only plan on the table that delivers on the Brexit vote … and also delivers for the people of Northern Ireland.”

However, May risked infuriating the party’s pro-Brexit grassroots by appearing to refuse to rule out further compromises to her Chequers plan in order to broker a final deal.

May has shown little sign of shifting away from her Chequers plan, named after her country residence where she hashed out an agreement on Brexit with her ministers in July, despite growing criticism that her proposals offer the worst of all worlds.

The chancellor, Philip Hammond, launched a scathing attack on Johnson, suggesting the former foreign secretary could not do “grown-up politics” and saying he did not expect him to become prime minister.

Foreign minister Jeremy Hunt seized the spotlight on Sunday afternoon in Birmingham as he savaged the EU and likened the bloc to a prison in a speech which prompted a standing ovation from Tory activists.

Jeremy Hunt compared the European Union to the USSR as he warned Brussels: You cannot keep us prisoner. The Foreign Secretary launched an extraordinary attack on the EU in a conference speech which invoked Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill and which will inevitably spark speculation of a future leadership bid.

The Telegraph adds that this came as Theresa May and Boris Johnson were at loggerheads over the Government’s approach to Brexit negotiations as the Prime Minister repeatedly failed to rule out making changes to her Chequers plan to secure a deal with the EU. Mr Johnson labelled Chequers “preposterous” and “deranged” as he accused Mrs May of not being a true Brexit believer, prompting the Prime Minister to hit back as she said: “I do believe in Brexit”.  He said: “At the moment you seem to think the way to keep the club together is to punish a member who leaves.

Hunt’s address to the party’s annual conference in Birmingham was immediately seen by members and media as a claim to be considered a candidate to replace May if her leadership falters over a seemingly intractable Brexit process.

Seeking to unify a party still split between those who wanted to stay in the EU and those who wanted to leave, he cast Brussels as the villain in stalled and acrimonious negotiations over a future partnership.

“At the moment you seem to think the way to keep the club together is to punish a member who leaves,” he said at the governing Conservative Party’s annual conference in Birmingham. “The lesson from history is clear: if you turn the EU club into a prison, the desire to get out won’t diminish, it will grow, and we won’t be the only prisoner that will want to escape.” Hunt, 51, replaced Boris Johnson as foreign minister in July after Johnson resigned in protest against May’s Brexit plans.

Meanwhile, Eurosceptic lawmaker Priti Patel said on Sunday Britain should not accept Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan and, if necessary, be ready to leave the European Union without a deal. Patel, a former cabinet minister, was speaking at a pro-Brexit rally at the Conservative Party’s annual conference in Birmingham.

BBC/Reuters/Telegraph/Guardian

 

 

 

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