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Theresa May attempts to unite Conservatives behind her plans for Brexit

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Under-pressure Prime Minister, Theresa May, has been struggling to unite the Conservative Party behind her Chequers Brexit deal.

The deal is a compromise and would see the UK take control of many keys areas of policy, maintaining ties with the EU in other areas and in many cases ensuring regulation is closely aligned between the UK and EU.

Many in the Conservative Party have perceived this deal as a capitulation to Brussels. While I attended the Conservative Conference this was the clear feeling from many grassroots supporters that I chatted with. I heard the phrase ‘chuck Chequers’ throughout the conference.

Making matters even more difficult for Theresa May was Boris Johnson. I was unlucky enough to be caught in the media scrum that erupted as Johnson entered the conference to speak about Brexit at a Conservative Home fringe event. Fortunately, I made it out alive.

1,500 people turned up to watch Boris’ speech. His talk heavily criticised the Chequers deal as he demanded that the Government urgently scrap the deal, to rapturous applause from supporters.

He said: “And instead of reasserting our ability to make laws the UK will be effectively paraded in manacles down the Rue de la Loi like Caratacus”

A suitably Johnson-esque comparison.

However, Boris Johnson did not offer a detailed alternative to the Chequers deal. Given his rhetoric it is likely he would advocate for a Canada style deal.

Canada trades tariff-free for most goods but does face other barriers to trading with the EU. The movement of services is much more limited. Canada is not bound to follow the principles underpinning the single market, such as freedom of movement.

Should Theresa May’s deal be voted down by Parliament, Boris will be waiting in the wings ready to mount a leadership challenge.

The Brexit drama continues.

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