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Theresa May: Second referendum would be 'politicians telling people they got it wrong'

May made reference to her disastrous speech from last year, before attacking Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Updated Oct 3rd 2018, 11:57 AM

TMayConference Source: Sky News

UK PRIME MINISTER Theresa May has repeated her stance in Brexit negotiations and on the Irish backstop during her closing speech at the Conservative Party Conference.

She ruled out a second Brexit vote, saying that it would be undemocratic, and said that she wouldn’t allow Northern Ireland to remain in the EU in order to avoid a hard border.

In one part of her speech, May made reference to Pettigo, a village that straddles the border between Co Donegal and Co Fermanagh.

“If you live in Pettigo on the Irish border, you need a Brexit that keeps it frictionless, and communities connected. These things matter to you, so they matter to me.”

She began by mocking her speech from last year, by asking people to excuse her if she coughs during her speech, and that she was up all night gluing the sign behind her to the backdrop, and danced onto the stage to the tune of Abba’s ‘Dancing Queen’. 

On Brexit, May said that they “seek a good trading relationship” with the EU. “They are our close friends and allies and we should ensure it stays that way. It’s what we promised in our manifesto.”

No one wants a good deal more than me, but that has never meant a deal at any costs.
Some people ask me to rule out a no deal – but that would mean accepting one of two options.
Either a deal that keeps us in the EU in all but name, or a deal that carves off Northern Ireland, effectively leaving it in the EU.
We will never accept either of those choices. We will respect the result of the referendum and we will never break up our country.

May prompted applause by pledging to limit migration.

“The free movement of people will end once and for all… It’s in the national interest.”

She said that migration will continue in the UK, but it will be based “on what skills you have to offer, not on what country you come from”.

She said this would reduce the numbers of people coming into the country, and would be “an incentive to train our young people and give them an opportunity to invest in technology”.

She also ruled out another vote on Brexit: “A second referendum would be a politicians’ vote. Think of what it would do to democracy… Politicians telling people they got it wrong and to vote again.” 

You saw in Salzburg that I am standing up for Britain, what we are proposing is very challenging for the EU but if we stand up and hold our nerve, we will get a deal that [serves the people of Britain].

The rest of her speech

The theme of her speech focused on opportunity: “with freedom comes responsibility… with security comes opportunity… the opportunity to dream and strive and to achieve a better life”.

“…The opportunity to know that if your dad arrives on a plane from Pakistan that you can become Home Secretary.”

This is referring to Sajid Javid, who is tipped as the possible next Tory leader.

She also defended the Tory’s record of funding the UK’s health service: “One of my most important jobs as Prime Minister is to secure the NHS for the future.”

She also repeatedly attacked Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, making reference to reports of anti-semitism within the Labour party, and his stance on defence measures.

It is our job in the Conservative party to make sure he can never to it to our country.

May also addressed the Salisbury poisoning, praising the cross-support she had from Parliament, and took aim at Corbyn again. 

He says Britain should disarm its defences in the hope that others should follow suit. I say no, we should keep our defences to keep our country safe.

In her speech, the Tory leader is expected to address accusations of a lack of confidence in Britain’s future by senior figures such as Boris Johnson, her former Foreign Minister.

“I passionately believe that our best days lie ahead of us and that our future is full of promise,” she will say, according to pre-released extracts of her speech.

Johnson’s speech

Johnson attracted hundreds to his speech on the future of the party and his vision for Brexit, in what was suspected to be an attempt to become the next Tory leader.

After criticising Theresa May’s Chequers plan, saying it didn’t deliver on what voters wanted, he asked Tory members to support May in going for a better deal which prompted a weak response from the crowd.

May’s Chequers plan, which outlines what the UK government wants from Brexit negotiations, has also been criticised by senior figures in the EU, such as European Council President Donald Tusk and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Conservative Party annual conference 2018 Prime Minister Theresa May prepares her keynote speech in her hotel room. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Last year, May’s closing speech to her party was a bit of a disaster (click here if you’d like to relive it).

During her speech, the letters from a “Building a country that works for everyone” sign on stage fell apart gradually, she was hit by a fit of coughing and had to be handed a strepsil, and a protester handed her a P45 form.

She was also mildly criticised for wearing a bracelet of painted images of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, who was a prominent communist and a close friend of Soviet politician Leon Trotsky at the biggest Conservative event in the country.

May’s speeches have been criticised as being repetitive, particularly on the subject of Brexit: “strong and stable government” and “Brexit means Brexit” are the most commonly repeated mantras.

Her speech today is hoped to indicate some room for compromise on Brexit; and how likely a leadership bid is – Johnson’s denials of premier ambitions aside.

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