Theresa May humiliated as Brexit rally upstages Tory conference

Empty seats define Tory conference as rival Brexit Advance conference attracts thousands of delegates in Birmingham. Boris Johnson speech set to further ruffle feathers as Brexiteers demand May's EU plan is scrapped

by Patrick Sullivan, Political Editor on 2 October 2018 09:27


Serious questions are being asked at Tory HQ this evening about how an alternative pro-Brexit Conference managed to rival the official Conservative Party Conference in terms of attendees. Photos obtained by The Commentator show a sparsely populated hall at the official conference; in stark contrast to the packed auditorium which greeted delegates of the Alternative Conference.

The Alternative Conference was hosted by Brexit Advance, a new coalition of conservative grassroots groups and think tanks which is being likened to the Tea Party in America, which helped propel Donald Trump to the Presidency. This grassroots insurgency has clearly unnerved many in government circles, with activist favourite, Andrea Jenkyn MP pointing out there was at least one government whip in the audience during her warmly received address to the Brexiteers assembled. The success of the Alternative Conference reinforces the sense that the Prime Minister and her cabinet are not even popular within her own party.

Speaking to this newspaper, earlier this evening, one of the Alternative Conference organisers, Cllr. Ben Harris-Quinney had this to say: "A coalition of like-minded groups and individuals came together to organise the alternative conference in the space of a few weeks. We aren't the establishment, we don't have big donors and huge budgets, and so we were expecting a modest event to make our case for democracy, freedom of speech and the restoration of national sovereignty. In the end we counted in over 250 people, which rivalled the attendance of the main Conference Hall.

The polls taken on the day showed a stark opposition to Chequers, and an even greater anger as to the lack of freedom and democracy in the Conservative Party. As one delegate put it "If the Conservative Party ban people like Steven Woolfe, then what does it say to ordinary conservatives like us?" When it comes to politics there is nothing more popular than democracy, if the Conservative Party is to survive it needs to think and operate very differently in this regard."

The Brexit Advance Conference was held at the Birmingham Midland Institute, just 5 minutes away from the ICC Birmingham, where the Conservative Party is holding its conference. Speakers at the Alternative Conference have included Rt. Hon. Priti Patel MP, Rt. Hon. Owen Paterson MP, Rt. Hon. John Redwood MP, Sir. Bill Cash MP, Andrea Jenkyns MP, Daniel Kawczynki MP, David Campbell-Bannerman MEP, Steven Woolfe MEP, Cllr. Robert Oulds, Cllr. Ben Harris-Quinney, John Strafford and Patrick Sullivan.

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