Conservative Party Conference, 10 things we learnt

Our Public Affairs team have returned from this week’s Conservative Party Conference in Manchester and have compiled the top 10 pieces of insight gathered from the event.

The Conservative Party used their Conference as a platform to hone their message for the upcoming General Election with the main focus on “Getting Brexit Done” and a focus on investing in the NHS, cutting crime and further funding for education.

However, amongst all the media noise around divisions in the party, the Conference was an upbeat and cordial affair with wide ranging debate on Brexit and the future of capitalism, the environment and housing.

  1. Chair of the European Research Group, Steve Baker, believes that Harriet Baldwin will replace Nicky Morgan as the new Treasury Select Committee Chair. However, he is keen to see an ERG candidate in the race.
  2. Many of the 21 Conservative MPs who lost the whip last month attended the Conference receiving a warm reception from Tory activists. Even though there was disagreement with members over their position, fringe events and discussions happened in a cordial way in contrast to Labour last week.
  3. There is widespread view that if Boris Johnson can cut a Brexit deal in the coming weeks, he could undertake a Cabinet reshuffle to build a broader Conservative coalition in Parliament.
  4. There is speculation that if a reshuffle takes place Michael Gove could be moved to the housing brief to ensure delivery here is prioritised. This reflects the attention on housing at Conference with many fringes focusing on the issue.
  5. Conservative Conference appeared much more united and excited than in previous years, especially compared to Labour Conference.
  6. Sajid Javid will introduce a Brexit Red Tape Challenge to identify which EU regulations can be amended or removed. He also suggested he could scrap inheritance tax at his first Budget to avoid people paying taxes twice.
  7. John Glen stressed that while he can’t arbitrate on mortgage prisoners it remains a priority for him and that the regulatory changes needed are hugely complex. He implied this issue would come into the scope of a future regulatory review.
  8. Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab plans to bring forward a UK Magnitsky law which would allow for visa bans and asset freezes on individuals accused on human right abuse.
  9. Brexit aside, most policy announcements were mainstream and moderate. The messaging was also simple, so the electorate were clear of the Conservative priorities ahead of the impending general election.
  10. The DUP were out in force at the party conference, with Arlene Foster and Nigel Dodds seen around various fringe events, receiving a warm welcome from members and hosting their own reception.


First published in our weekly Political Capital newsletter