City A.M.’s reporters bring you the gossip behind the headline speeches at the Conservative Party Conference.
20 Miles an hour
In a room at the back of the Midland Hotel in Manchester, Liz Truss delivered her siren song to the Tory faithful who once voted for her to be Prime Minister.
The event was originally billed to be starting at midday, but as the clock slowly ticked towards 12pm and the crowd of hacks and members weren’t allowed in, rumours began circulating that it would in fact start at 12:30.
“I think she’s delayed it on purpose, she doesn’t want to risk being accused of going too far, too fast again.”
Jacob Rees-Mogg, evidently, did not get the memo about speed warnings, railing against the imposition of 20mph limits on neighbourhoods around Britain.
The room was packed full of GB news presenters, one of whom felt so at home amidst the warm glow of tax cuts and economic growth that they slipped off their shoes and went barefoot at the back.
No one in attendance thought to mention the prime minister even once, and instead embraced suggestions they were prepared to start their own rival party, complete with a slogan (“Make Britain grow again”) and logo.
One member of the audience was so excited to be a part of the pro-growth “rally” that he accidentally whooped an affirmative when Jacob Rees-Mogg asked the rhetorical question: Who wants higher food prices?
Jeremy Hunt’s speech was somewhat gazumped by the news that the HS2 rail line to Manchester would in fact be dumped. Thankfully, the Chancellor flew to conference, so doesn’t need to rely on trains across the country like the rest of us.
One attendee of Hunt’s address overheard the former deputy chair of the Chancellor’s local association admitting he was only in the audience “out of obligation” not because he thought Hunt would have anything interesting to say. “He is a bit boring,” he said, not even bothering to whisper.
Secretary of State for …
In the smoking area outside the Midland Hotel, a gaggle of young Tories were disturbed from their usual gossip as Grant Shapps entered their midst, causing a stir like Harry Styles at Hampstead ponds.
This will have come as a relief to Shapps, the defence secretary, who only days before the event in Manchester, was asked by a senior journalist, “so what are doing these days?”
Keegan’s Potty Mouth
The crowds around the conference centre fell into a flutter of excitement as a security detail descended on the entrance.
The “is it Rishi Sunak, is to the chancellor” bubble quickly burst when someone replied “no. It’s Liz Truss”.
According to one bystander, potty-mouthed education secretary Gillian Keegan let out her exasperation: “for f***’s sake”.