The Tory high command was dealt a blow last night after the UK’s oldest Conservative think tank snubbed the annual party conference to launch a manifesto with Boris Johnson.
The Bow Group, which was set up in 1951 and counts former cabinet minister Lord Howe amongst its members, accused the Conservative party conference of being “a corporate venue for press and lobbyists” rather than “a genuine forum for conservatism and Conservative party members”.
Chairman Ben Harris-Quinney said many politicians including MEP Daniel Hannan would be “noticeably absent” this year and “that must give the party and broader conservative movement pause for concern and review”.
“Party conference season should be a critical, indispensable time in the British political calender for the nation’s most prominent political movements to come together,” he added.
The think tank has launched “a new conservative vision for the Britain and the Conservative Party”. Johnson argues in the manifesto for city governments to be given more responsibility for raising locally some of the tax money they spend.