Previewing the PM’s conference speech

In advance of Theresa May’s closing speech to the Tory faithful in Birmingham, Newgate Communications has assembled an expert panel of commentators to share what they hope to hear from the PM. 

Here’s what they said: 


ian-king-sky2Ian King – Business Presenter, Sky News 

“I hope Theresa May will signal her intention to continue making deficit reduction a priority, while also indicating her willingness to invest such money as is available on infrastructure projects. These would ideally be not on the kind of ‘grand projects’ favoured by George Osborne, like HS2, but on incremental improvements such as upgrades to the roads network.

If there is to be fiscal loosening in response to the Brexit vote, it should be in the form of encouraging investment to boost long-term growth, not short-term measures like a temporary cut to VAT. I would also like to see her cut the punitive rates of stamp duty on higher-value homes, imposed by George Osborne in December 2014.

I would like – but do not expect – the new PM to start removing the complexities and iniquities in Britain’s tax system introduced by Gordon Brown and continued by George Osborne. This would ideally include a restoration of the personal allowance to all taxpayers, removing the taper on the tax relief on the pension contributions of higher rate taxpayers, as well as the removal of the lifetime allowance on pension contributions, which is no more than a punishment on the prudent for sensibly investing their retirement savings.”

syed-kamall-mepSyed Kamall MEP – Chair of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group

“I hope the Prime Minister will present a clear vision of how her Government will boost our prosperity, commerce and global influence outside the EU – and how our party will champion tolerance, opportunity and practical community politics.”

rt-hon-stephen-crabb-mpRt Hon Stephen Crabb MP -Former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

“Theresa May used her first conference speech as Prime Minister to set down a strong marker about the scope and pace of Brexit. This additional clarity is exactly right at this point in the process but still leaves some room for flexibility as she crafts the UK negotiating position.

In her closing speech to conference I would expect to see her flesh out some of her other key priorities in terms of economic renewal and social mobility. I would hope she will signal a major programme of infrastructure investment for the whole of the UK and announce additional measures to tackle entrenched disadvantage in society. This is a key moment to demonstrate her commitment to leading a One Nation government.” 


Guto Harri -Managing Director of External Communications at Liberty Global and former Communications Director for London Mayor, Boris Johnson

“The PM needs to reassure the country that Brexit will boost jobs and growth not diminish or isolate us.  We need an ambitious and convincing plan beyond the mantra that the referendum means we’re stuck on this train whether it’s going to crash or not. 

It would be good too if she acknowledges that the Conservatives always need to show they deserve to be in power – rather than by default because of the tragic hopelessness of the Labour party.”


Baroness Simone Finn – Former Conservative Special Adviser 

“I would like to see a commitment to the status of EU nationals living in this country. I would also like to hear that Britain will remain an open, free trade economy and that controlling immigration is not the same as being anti-immigration.”


Peter York – Cultural Commentator, Author, and Broadcaster

“I’d like her to give a sign that she gets it.  That she really understands and acknowledges the roots of inequality and really understands what’s happening in the frightening big world.

 I think it’s the existential joke of the decade that she’s appointed BoJo, David Davis and Liam Fox to negotiate our relationships with foreigners!”

nilspratleyNils Pratley – Financial Editor, The Guardian

“I hope she cancels HS2. I expect to be disappointed but it would be the best way for Theresa May to demonstrate that she’s serious about producing an economic plan “to help not one or even two of our great regional cities but every single one of them,” as she put in her one and only campaign speech to be Tory leader.

HS2 would further entrench London’s economic dominance, sucking resources from the north and the midlands. Far better, by far, to build HS3 to connect Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester and Hull while also upgrading commuter lines into London and other big cities. Intelligent improvements of existing rail infrastructure, rather a single grand project, would be the best way to spend the £50bn ear-marked for HS2.

May, let’s hope, will also put flesh on the bones of her idea to “get tough on irresponsible behaviour in big business.” The modest measures – like annual binding votes and disclosure of pay ratios – are easy to implement and now almost uncontentious. But is she serious about worker and consumer representatives on boards? If so, let’s hear details – the harder the better – so we can be spared the tedious process of corporate lobbyists diluting even initial watery ideas.”

Join us again later this afternoon when Newgate’s Public Affairs Team will deliver their verdict on the PM’s conference speech.

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