Johnson assaults May's Brexit plan at fractious party meeting

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Mr Johnson demonstrated his power over the Conservative membership, attacking Theresa May's plan for Brexit in an address that drew around 1,000 delegates at the party's conference in Birmingham. "It is unsafe and unstable - politically and economically".

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson called for "a period of silence" from Mr Johnson, pointing out that he had given his endorsement when in Government to Brexit policies he was now criticising.

Mr Hammond mocked his former Cabinet colleague by mimicking his style of speaking in an interview with the Daily Mail, in which he predicted that Mr Johnson will never become PM.

In August, he was criticized for comparing Muslim women who wear face-covering veils to "letter boxes", and last month he compared May's Brexit plan to a "suicide vest".

But Hammond said "Super Canada" proposal suggested by Johnson is "not on offer" from the European Union because it would create a hard border in Northern Ireland.

The problem for Johnson "is that he is becoming a politician who is incredibly well created to win the votes of paid-up members of the Conservative Party and is poorly positioned to win votes of anybody else", agrees the New Statesman's Bush.

After charming the crowds, there was a hunger from some of those present for Johnson to go further and declare a leadership bid - something his aides say he is reluctant to do, yet. But undoubtedly the biggest reaction came from his attack on the Prime Minister's Brexit proposals; cheers and enthusiastic clapping as he urged the party to "chuck Chequers".

He added: "We will not outbid Corbyn with short-term gimmicks that cause long-term damage; we will not outspend him with reckless borrowing; we will not promise the illusory utopia he offers because, as those who have tried it have shown time and time again, it is based on a lie and it always ends in tears".

They spend their holidays hiking, and the prime minister enjoys cooking and reading detective novels.

May acknowledged that Johnson's speech had made her "cross" but said she was sticking to her Brexit blueprint, which would keep Britain aligned to many European Union rules in return for remaining in the bloc's single market for goods.

Mary Wylie, a local party official from Devon in southwest England, said Johnson's speech expressed "my Conservative philosophy".

"We will give credence to those who cry betrayal, and I am afraid we will make it more likely that the ultimate beneficiary of the Chequers deal will be the far right in the form of UKIP".

But she said parts of his speech about Northern Ireland angered her.

In an interview with the Sunday Times, Mr Johnson said the United Kingdom should build a bridge to Ireland and put the HS2 rail line on hold to focus on a high-speed link in the north of England.

"My friends, the one thing I really worry about in this critical Autumn of 2018 is that after 200 years, this oldest and most successful of all political parties should somehow lose confidence in its basic belief in freedom", Johnson said.

And she will look to turn the tide of internal party anger towards Jeremy Corbyn's Labour, suggesting on the back of the anti-Semitism row that it is now the new nasty party with the Conservatives as the party of patriotism, business, aspiration and "above all a party of Unionism".

"This is a plan which ensures we deliver on the vote of the British people".

Mr Hammond, who supported Remain in the 2016 referendum, insisted that he believes in Brexit and thinks there is "a high chance" that a version of the Chequers plan will be agreed.

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