UK's May aims to gain Conservative control after storm Boris

The old slogans have proved a hit with Young Conservatives

The old slogans have proved a hit with Young ConservativesTIMES

She made a grab for traditionally Labour territory by saying that the NHS "embodies our principles as Conservatives" and boasting of the presence in the Tory front ranks of immigrant's son Sajid Javid, former Barnardo's girl Esther McVey and lesbian mother-to-be Ruth Davidson. "We are entering the toughest phase of the negotiations", May said, drawing firm applause.

She also tried to return to the message she gave when she was appointed prime minister in 2016, promising to help those who feel "left behind", many of whom voted to leave the European Union in the referendum of that year.

Mrs May has said she will come forward with revised proposals to try to break the deadlock with the European Union over the so-called Irish "backstop" to prevent the return of a hard border if the two sides fail to reach a wider agreement on their future relationship. But she refused to rule it out, adding: 'The resilience and ingenuity of the British people would see us through'.

May took on her detractors in a punchy address to the party's annual conference, a day after a rival, former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, challenged her authority with a speech of his own.

May continued to distance the Conservative Party's "decency and moderate patriotism" from Labour's actions by placing the two parties on a spectrum with an ever-more expanding opinion gap in the middle.

Another part of May's quest to show we're all in this together, was to become relevant to the masses: there was a dirty joke about there being a "four letter word...ending in k" that the Conservatives want to do to businesses, and that's "back" them.

"In Northern Ireland we've grown up with a lot of fears and issues that we've faced; frankly, being afraid of what Theresa May may do is not one of my biggest fears", Nigel Dodds, a DUP leader, told the Guardian this week. One groaning mention of free trade's influence on flat-pack furniture might have bristled the Swedish ambassador who'd previously condoned May's use of ABBA as entrance music, but that dance provoked more laughs later. Last month, Johnson and his wife Marina Wheeler announced they were divorcing after 25 years of marriage - a move some saw as an attempt to neutralize potential stories about his private life before a leadership campaign.

And then came the policies.

Today Theresa May announced the future lifting of the borrowing cap on councils to allow them to start building houses again - I wonder how she extracted that concession from the Chancellor, Philip Hammond. In its place was an honesty about millions of people struggling to make ends meet (though critics will yell 'yes, under your watch!'). "If we get it wrong – if we bottle Brexit now – believe me, the people of this country will find it hard to forgive", said Johnson, seen a lead contender vying to replace Theresa May as PM.

What was the point of this unity, of these attacks on Corbyn in the name of togetherness, of these aphorisms that "Every person, no matter their gender, no matter their class, has an equal chance, '?" "But if we remain united and keep our calm, I know that we can get an agreement satisfactory to the United Kingdom". MPs must approve any final Brexit deal. I know that no party has a monopoly on good ideas. "It will be hard in the beginning, but the ingenuity and resilience of the british people, will help us to overcome" the trials of Brexit. So, it is no surprise that we have had a range of different views expressed this week. "Our future is in our hands".

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