Delegates began gathering in the central English city of Birmingham on Sunday for the Tory conference which will begin on Sunday with Brexit high on the agenda.
The meeting comes amid growing concerns that May’s government could fail to reach an agreement with the EU on how Britain will withdraw from the bloc in March, Presstv reported.
Senior Tory member and Business Secretary Greg Clark insisted on Saturday that it was highly unlikely for Britain to crash out of the EU without a deal, a scenario that many fear could have grave implications for the British economy.
“Of course we want a deal ... That’s why the next few weeks are going to be important to go through issue by issue what’s being proposed to address whether there are any residual concerns that the negotiators have and with a cool head and recognizing the common interest in this, resolve them one by one,” Clark told the BBC radio.
May’s hopes for a deal were dashed last week when EU leaders said in a summit in Austria that she must revise her proposals on trade and how the border in the island of Ireland will be administered after Brexit. May says that her plan, known as Chequers, is the only viable solution and has reiterated several times that her government would prefer a no-deal Brexit to a bad deal that could harm the UK economy.
Former foreign minister Boris Johnson, a main critic of Chequers who resigned after it was announced in May’s country residence in July, said Friday that the premier’s plan of action would make Britain a “vassal” of the EU. Johnson said the best option for Britain was to launch a free trade agreement with the EU instead of committing itself, at least partly, to EU trade rules after Brexit.
Johnson, also a main candidate to replace May if she fails with her Brexit plan, is expected to lead the internal rebellion against the premier in the Birmingham conference.
In a fresh blow to May and her Brexit plans, the car manufacturer Toyota announced Saturday that if the government fails to reach a withdrawal deal with the EU, it will seriously affect the Japanese company’s production in Britain.
“The additional burden of import and export cost would add permanent costs to our business,” said Marvin Cooke, managing director of Toyota’s Burnaston plant, adding, “It would reduce our competitiveness. Sadly I think that would reduce the number of cars made in the UK and that would cost jobs.”