Here are five things I learnt at the this year’s Conservative Party Conference.
The former Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, demonstrated his ability to woo grassroots members with a speech, which some of his supporters tried to suggest was supportive of Theresa May, but did little to dampen talk of his leadership ambitions.
Mrs May remains committed to her target of cutting net annual immigration despite struggles to achieve it over recent years. The Prime Minister outlined the Government’s long-awaited immigration plans linked to Brexit. And her target remains in place – and doubts about meeting it persist.
Sajid Javid outlined his vision for how Britain should develop post-Brexit – in what is likely to be the latest main stage speech to be interpreted as the beginnings of a leadership pitch. The Home Secretary touched on his personal rise and tried to adopt a welcoming but firm approach on immigration, particularly in the wake of the Windrush scandal and criticism of the Government’s “hostile environment” policy.
Inspiration to become an MP can arrive at any time – including when on your honeymoon. A discussion about how to encourage more women into politics saw Helen Whately reveal her “watershed moment” on her journey to eventually becoming MP for Faversham and Mid Kent. She told members:
“It was the first time for a few years, a really busy life working and campaigning, and I thought ‘you know what, I think I want to stand for Parliament, I think I want to be an MP’.”
Finally, austerity will soon be over. It remains to be seen quite exactly when.