PM MAY danced onto the stage at the Tory Party conference in Birmingham yesterday to the strains of Abba’s Dancing Queen and claimed that austerity was over. In her speech there was no mention of her ‘Chequers plan’, but she warned that ‘visions of the perfect Brexit’ would result in ‘no Brexit at all’.
Beginning a series of attacks on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, May said: ‘Today when I look across at the opposition benches, I can still see that Labour Party, the heirs of Hugh Gaitskell and Barbara Castle, Denis Healey and John Smith, but not on the front bench. ‘Instead, their faces stare blankly out from the rows behind, while another party occupies high positions – the Jeremy Corbyn party.’
She went on: ‘The Jeremy Corbyn party rejects the common values that once bridged our political divide. ‘Just compare Jeremy Corbyn’s behaviour with that of his predecessors. Would Neil Kinnock, who stood up to the hard left, have stood by while his own MPs faced deselection and needed police protection at their party conference?
‘Would Jim Callaghan, who served in the Royal Navy, have asked the Russian government to confirm the findings of our own intelligence agencies? ‘Would Clement Attlee, Churchill’s trusted deputy during the Second World War, have told British Jews they didn’t know the meaning of anti-Semitism? ‘What has befallen Labour is a national tragedy.’
She continued: ‘It is our duty in this Conservative Party to make sure he can never do it to our country.’ She added: ‘Just imagine if he were prime minister. He says Britain should disarm herself in the hope others will follow suit. I say no, we must keep our defences strong to keep our country safe.
‘He says a strong NATO simply provokes Russia, I say no, it is a guarantor of our freedom and security.’ One hour before May’s speech, Tory MP James Duddridge announced that he had submitted a letter to the backbench 1922 Committee calling for a leadership contest.