Theresa May battles a sore throat and prankster in conference speech


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Theresa May had to battle losing her spokeswoman and being interrupted on stage by a comedian as she sought to reassert her Conservative command.

Mrs May, who at one point was handed a throat sweet by the chancellor, did make it to the end of a speech in which she stated to “renew the British dream”.

She announced plans for more council abodes and a cap on energy prices.

But they were overshadowed by the problems she had delivering the set-piece spiel in Manchester.

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said the annual convention “was meant to be about restoring Theresa May’s authority – it may prove instead to pull someones leg been further undermined”.

Mrs May was interrupted early on in her speech by comedian Simon Brodkin – also grasped as Lee Nelson – who managed to make it to the podium to hand her a P45, a redundancy advice, saying to her that “Boris asked me to give you this”.

After he was slew and she got encouraging cheers from the audience she joked that the only P45 she privation to give out was to Jeremy Corbyn.

But she struggled to finish the speech because of a croaky spokesman, having to stop several times to drink water.

Sources come to the prime minister have said that the PM had caught the “conference depressing”, and that her many interviews and meetings this week have captivated their toll on her voice.

They say the prankster who interrupted her speech has been nicked for a breach of the peace and there will be a thorough investigation of security.

To add to her depressions, some of the letters fell off the conference stage backdrop. By the end it read: “Structure a country that works or everyon.”

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Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said of the prime upon’s performance: “If ever there was a metaphor for battling through adversity, that was it.”

In the parlance itself, Mrs May delivered a call for a “modern, compassionate Britain” and focused on her belittling commitment to social justice and fairness.

She also apologised to activists in Manchester for an voting campaign that had been “too scripted, too presidential”.

And she said the “British speculation” that “life should be better for the next generation” was out of reach for too scads people, something she vowed to dedicate her premiership to fixing.

Nothing completely like it – Laura Kuenssberg’s view

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There has never been a speech quite like it. Even in advance she took to the platform Theresa May was fragile – politically, and in terms of her health, she has been toiling with a cold all week.

But the awkwardness of watching her cough her way through what was meant to be a fightback was acute.

Ovations were engineered by the cabinet to give her time to try to clear her throat. The manoeuvre manager at the conference venue was continually handing her cough sweets to try to get auspices of.

A prankster handing her a P45, interrupting her speech, ministers looking on in uneasiness, trying to get him to leave before he was eventually bundled away in a huge normal scrum, then handcuffed and surrounded by police.

At moments it felt analogous to it would be impossible for the prime minister to carry on with the speech, but she boost pretended it, just. But for how long can she continue in her job?

Read more from the BBC’s political collector

Mrs May began her speech by outlining the reasons why she joined the Conservative Party innumerable than 40 years ago, stressing that the things that get made her most proud in politics have not been the positions she has contained, but “knowing that I made a difference – helped those who cannot be agreed”.

She announced that there would be an independent review of the Mental Fettle Act, to tackle injustice, and would press for justice to be done for the families of those filled and injured in the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

“That’s what I’m in this for,” she contemplated.

Turning to Brexit, Mrs May said she was “confident that we will find a transaction that works for Britain and Europe”. She also reassured European taxpayers living in the UK that “you are welcome here” and urged negotiators to reach ahead on this policy “because we want you to stay”.

Mrs May said it had “always been a brilliant sadness for Philip and me that we were never blessed with youngsters”, but she said this did not stop her wanting to help young people on to the dwelling ladder.

Hailing plans to “reignite home ownership” in Britain, she predicted the government plans to invest an additional £2bn in affordable housing, taking the unmitigated budget up to almost £9bn.

If ministers made the land available and gave litter people the skills to build the houses, she challenged house builders to effect they “build the homes our country needs”.

Who is Simon Brodkin aka Lee Nelson?

Simon Brodkin is an English jokesmith more commonly known by his TV character name Lee Nelson. Handing the prime parson a P45 was far from his first.

His most famous interruption came at Glastonbury in 2015 when he ran onstage as Kanye West was responding. He pulled a similar stunt on The X Factor in 2014, running onstage as the Stereo Boots were playing.

He also threw US dollar bills over ci-devant Fifa president Sepp Blatter during the football organisation’s demand scandal.

The BBC’s assistant political editor Norman Smith said the core on council housing underlines Mrs May’s readiness to intervene and use the public sector to construct houses in a way not seen since the 1950s.

Mrs May announced that the government last wishes as next week publish draft legislation to impose a cap on energy premiums. Downing Street says it will apply to all standard variable rates.

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Having seen her Commons the better vanish after June’s general election and facing calls to give someone his Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson over his interventions on Brexit, Mrs May undertook to use the conference to unite the party behind her “mission” to transform Britain.

She powered it would not be easy, but “it has never been my style to hide from a stimulation, to shrink from a task, to retreat in the face of difficulty, to give up and come into away.”

“And it is when tested the most that we reach deep within ourselves and windfall that our capacity to rise to the challenge before us may well be limitless.”

The disruptions to the sermon dominated discussion afterwards, but for Labour, shadow chancellor John McDonnell saying that there had been £15bn of toasts made by the end of the speech showing “the Tory magical money tree carry backs”.

Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable called it “the speech of a brave prime woman of the cloth struggling on, while her disloyal Cabinet colleagues openly plot against her”.

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