The Conservative party conference has started and Theresa May has kick-started this year’s gathering with her big speech on Brexit. The Prime Minister revealed earlier that Article 50 will be triggered by March next year. And when she took to the stage in Birmingham, she offered up a few more small glimmers about her Brexit plan. James Forsyth was in the hall to listen to the speech and he said the PM did her best not to talk about ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ Brexit. But was she successful?
‘I thought what was interesting about it was that she tried to say that this soft and hard Brexit distinction is wrong. But then if you were putting the rest of the speech on a scale, you would definitely put it towards the harder end because she was clear that we haven’t voted to leave the European Union to come up with some kind of a relationship which has all the problems of being in the EU. So she said she wanted UK control over immigration, she said she wanted the UK to be out of the jurisdiction of the European court of justice. Now logically, that implies we are leaving the European single market.’
But it wasn’t only Theresa May taking centre stage this afternoon. Her Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was back, offering up his trademark gags and also a more serious side. So how did his speech go down? On the podcast, Isabel Hardman says:
‘It still looked as though he was treating everything as a bit of a joke actually. It’s difficult for Boris, because he can’t jump all of a sudden from being the man who makes the Conservative conference weep with joy at his jokes to being someone who is very serious and tries to emulate Philip Hammond. I think he did still seem as though he was playing to the gallery a little too much in my view.’