Tory conference: Key events, speeches and what to expect from Manchester

Tory conference: Key events, speeches and what to expect from Manchester

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THE Conservatives have gathered in Manchester for their first party conference since Boris Johnson became leader.

So who’s there, what should we expect, and what are the key events to look out for?

Boris Johnson arrives in Manchester for his first Conservative party conference as PM
AFP or licensors

WHEN IS BORIS JOHNSON’S SPEECH?

Boris Johnson entered Number Ten in July of this year, and this year’s conference will be his first as Tory leader.

Recent weeks have seen the debate surrounding Brexit continue to rage and the recall of parliament after the Supreme Court ruled Johnson’s prorogation unlawful.

The prime minister’s speech is set to close the conference, and is currently scheduled to take place as some point on Wednesday morning.

It’s not yet clear whether he will make any policy announcements or instead focus on the ongoing divisions in British politics.

Parliament will continue to sit over the coming days, but in the absence of Tory MPs will not debate controversial bills, dealing only with those that have broad cross-party support.

The opening of the conference has been overshadowed by an article by a Sunday Times columnist alleging Johnson groped her at a private dinner in 1999.

WHAT WILL HE SAY ABOUT BREXIT?

One topic certain to feature in speeches at the conference is Brexit.

The prime minister remains committed to leaving the European Union on October 31, and says he still wants to secure a deal, but critics say he has so far failed to put forward a serious alternative to the deal negotiated by Theresa May.

Speculation also continues that Number Ten hopes to find a way round a law passed by parliament earlier this month blocking the UK from leaving the EU without a deal.

As things stand, the law requires Boris Johnson to request a three-month extension if no deal is reached by October 19.

WHY ARE PEOPLE PROTESTING?

Large protests have become a fixture of the Conservative Party conference in recent years, and thousands have travelled to Manchester to demonstrate.

Roads throughout the city were closed for the march, and mounted officers walked ahead of the demonstrations.

One march was named Reject Brexit, Defend Our Democracy gathered to oppose Britain’s EU exit.

Another was organised by activists opposing austerity, with attendees including shadow education secretary Angela Rayner.

People’s Assmbly Against Austerity said in a statement: “With food bank use on the up, child poverty ever increasing, and an NHS at breaking point, the People’s Assembly have called for a mass protest against the Tories.”


WHAT’S THE SCHEDULE?

  • The main event on Sunday, the conference’s opening day, was a speech by foreign secretary Dominic Raab. Other senior figures to make an appearance included party chairman James Cleverly and leader of the house Jacob Rees-Mogg.
  • Monday saw chancellor Sajid Javid take to the stage as well as a panel on the future of public services with the health secretary and the work and pensions secretary.
  • On Tuesday, home secretary Priti Patel will deliver her speech, and a panel including justice secretary Robert Buckland and attorney general Geoffrey Cox will discuss reforms to the justice system.
  • The conference will close on Wednesday, with prime minister Boris Johnson due to address the main hall before 12.45pm. Other events include a panel featuring the Scottish, Welsh, and Northern Irish secretaries on the future of the Union.

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