May might have achieved her dream of becoming prime minister, but her tragedy is that she was destined to be the prime minister who delivers Brexit, the UK's greatest national challenge in modern memory.
Mr Downer also said Mrs May's senior ministers had this week told him Britain would soon become the 12th member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, which involves Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
Taking a swipe at hardline eurosceptic Johnson, May said she was making decisions on Brexit in the "national interest" - a nod to her argument that her former foreign secretary's alternative Brexit proposals would tear the United Kingdom apart by placing Northern Ireland under European Union customs rules and thereby detaching it from the rest of Britain.
She said: "I have said very clearly, it is a matter for the Conservative Party".
The crucial address comes one year, nearly to the day, since her catastrophic conference speech in Manchester, where she suffered a stage invasion by a comedian, a persistent cough and a collapsing backdrop. The audience included leading pro-Brexit lawmakers, a well-known political spin doctor and hedge fund billionaire Michael Hintze, a Conservative donor.
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Mrs May was addressing the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham.
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She urged all sections of her divided party to "come together" behind her negotiating stance after days of criticism of her Chequers blueprint for Brexit.
Observers will keep a close eye on whether she makes any reference to that calamitous performance, which led to speculation over how long she could last as Conservative leader. "The people we serve are not interested in debates about the theory of Brexit - their livelihoods depend on making a success of it in practice".
Foster acknowledged that it "could well be the case" that the majority of people in Northern Ireland disagrees with her on equal marriage, but said the issue should be left for the future Assembly to deal with.
He said: "I write this with heavy heart, however we now need a proper leadership election and to move on".
■ THERESA MAY has distanced herself from foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt's comparison of the EU with the Soviet Union.
The region, which is part of the United Kingdom, has an open land border with the Republic of Ireland as part of the 20-year-old Good Friday Agreement that ended decades of sectarian violence.
She will accuse Corbyn of being divisive, and paint her own party as "decent, moderate and patriotic", open to "everyone who is willing to work hard and do their best". Mrs May told BBC One's Breakfast that Mr Hunt had been making a point about delivering on the referendum result but said: 'I can tell you that the two organisations are not the same'.