Theresa May managed to get through her Tory Party conference without any major disasters.
Initially billed to trigger mass clashes with a usurper on her tail, she rounded out the conference with arguably her best speech as leader in three years.
The Prime Minster worked hard over the four days of the conference to show party unity. She did not rise to Boris’s bait, failing to give him the extra media push he needed. Instead, she danced her way on to the stage leaning in to her new found crowd pleaser role and showing that last year’s disastrous speech was well behind her.
May proved to all those members pushing for a leadership bid that she was very much in charge
It is generally conceded that Boris had a successful conference turning up for a day and rallying over 1,000 people to hear his speech. It was however attended mostly by ordinary members and journalists with MPs unimpressed and unwilling to show their faces.
From the ground it felt as though he had managed to frustrate many who felt that he was pushing for disunity at a time when the party cannot be seen to be divided. He instead preached to those who had already been converted.
Grass roots activists
It appears that the push byparty chairman Brandon Lewis for party members and grass roots activists to attend the conference this year was successful. There was a good showing of members although, they did not appear to have an interest in attending speeches with many shots in the media of an empty main hall including for “big ticket” speeches such as the Chancellor’s and the Foreign Secretary’s.
It must be said that the main conference happened in the fringe events with a large push from the right leaning European Reach Group (ERG) and the left leaning Tory Reform Group.
Members listened to ERG Chairman Jacob Reece-Mogg MP, chief secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss MP and Home Secretary Sajid Javid MP setting out their visions for a post Brexit future whilst others were pinning on their #standup4Brexit and ‘Chuck Chequers’ badges. Events were critical of Brexit but not of the Prime Minister, which makes a change to her standing amongst party members.
The new found hero of the party has to be the Government’s new attorney-general, Geoffrey Cox
The general feel from those on the ground was positive as Theresa May was at her most personable by returning to her approachable and broad church ideals that could win a future election.
She celebrated her diverse Cabinet and congratulated the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth Davidson MSP and her partner on their child. Theresa May proved to all those members pushing for a leadership bid that she was very much in charge and will continue to lead the party.
Nonetheless, the new found hero of the party has to be the Government’s new attorney-general, Geoffrey Cox QC MP, who warmed up the crowd for the Prime Minister with a rousing Churchillian speech on Brexit which made even the most pro-Europe of the team want to stand and up and join the call to arms.