By Campaign Agent Matthew Waterfield
Dates: 1-4 October
Thanks to Boris Johnson’s recent interventions, the Conservative Party conference was always going to be dominated by questions regarding Theresa May’s leadership.
He told The Sun on the eve of the conference that a transition period should not last more than two years, comments seen as a direct challenge to May’s authority, forcing May and her team to spend the first few day of the conference denying that Johnson had disobeyed her.
As the conference rumbled on, the speeches of the potential future leadership contenders were watched carefully – Johnson’s was particularly noticeable. His speech was well received in the conference hall, as he said it was time to “let the British lion roar” and insisted that he was fully supportive of May’s Florence speech. Prominent Tories such as Ruth Davidson and Jacob Rees-Mogg also served as star attractions at the event.
Unfortunately for the Conservatives, the lasting impression that their conference leaves will be of Theresa May’s infamous speech. It began with May speaking about about why she became a Conservative, and the health issues she’s faced, revealing her rarely seen private side.
All of a sudden her speech was interrupted by a prankster, who handed her a P45 notice, telling her it was from Johnson. Thrown by this unexpected turn of events, her cough became incessant, even after she was given a cough sweet by the Chancellor and water by others. The icing on the cake was when the letters on the display behind her began to fall off the wall (proving the old adage that bad luck comes in threes).
In the aftermath of this, Grant Shapps led a cack-handed coup attempt against May, which she survived, thanks to his absence of following within the party and the decision of Conservative MPs to rally around her. It was a fitting way to top off the most exhilarating conference this year, with the main outcome being an arguably weakened prime minister and a Conservative Party perplexed by what is happening to it.
Sources and further reading:
- Theresa May’s Conservative conference speech, full text
- Theresa May offers the ‘British dream’ but speech turns into a nightmare
- My vision for a bold, thriving Britain enabled by Brexit, Boris Johnson
- Boris Johnson reveals his four Brexit ‘red lines’ for Theresa May