The last dance: Europe tells May to 'get down to business'

As Theresa May jigged out onto the stage at the Conservative Party conference to give her keynote speech, I had to ask myself, last year it was coughing, what's the affliction this year - until I realised she was dancing - to Abba's Dancing Queen coming over the sound system. She acknowledged that this would cause an increase in public debt.

European Union leaders have also rejected her proposal for Britain to remain closely economically aligned with the bloc, and gave her until a summit on October 18 to rework it.

The UK Prime Minister is pleading for some cohesion over her plan to leave the European Union.

May used a punchy speech to lay down a challenge to her detractors, a day after Johnson trashed her Brexit plan and challenged her authority with a crowd-pleasing speech of his own.

But she delivered a stinging riposte to his reported "f*** business" comment, saying the business community should know that "there is a four-letter word to describe what we Conservatives want to do to you - it has a single syllable, it is of Anglo-Saxon derivation, it ends in the letter K. Back businesses".

Her words were aimed at easing the growing frustration of some Conservatives who openly say their party is directionless, unable to set an agenda against the divisive rows over Brexit between competing wings of the party.

A year ago everything that could go wrong did go wrong, with May struggling to make her speech because of a throat infection, and suffering of the platform backdrop falling apart. As she put it: "We need to come together now. Is the future of the country really 'in our hands together"?

May spoke highly of previous Labour leaders, saying, 'At least they had some basic qualities everybody could respect...they were proud of Britain...' unlike, she insisted, the current Labour Party leader.

The heat she faces from some in the party was underlined less than an hour before her speech when Conservative lawmaker James Duddridge said he had submitted a letter calling on her to resign.

European Union regulators draft market agreements with UK's FCA: Steven Maijoor, chairman of Esma, the pan-European regulator, on Wednesday said talks had begun about creating a series of "memorandums of understanding" that could be signed with the UK's Financial Conduct Authority.The agreements would likely cover information and surveillance-sharing, and be ready in the case of a no-deal Brexit. "She is putting her country before herself, which not many people would do". "There must be no return", she said. The deficit is down but achieving that has been painful. She called his extreme approach to politics "a national tragedy" that has appalled millions of people. We have to make the arguments for free markets, for open economies, and we have to recognise in doing that, that for some people as I said on the steps of Downing Street back when I first became prime minister, they do feel that things haven't been working for everyone in the way that they should.

And she warned she was ready to take further action against utility firms which punish loyal customers with higher prices. But the British people need to know that the end is in sight.

"And our message to them must be this - We get it. May also name-checked The Bodyguard, admitting she's been too busy with Brexit to watch it: '[Politics is] not always glamorous, I've seen the trailers for the bodyguard and let me tell you, it wasn't like that in my day".

Taking a swipe at Mr Johnson, Mrs May said she was taking decisions on Brexit in the "national interest", pressing her argument that her former foreign secretary's alternative Brexit proposals would tear the United Kingdom apart.

She admitted that the public needed to see that "their hard work has paid off" after struggling with cuts to public services in a bid to balance the country's books.

  • Wendy Palmer