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UK PM May Speech Dominated By Prankster And Respiratory Issues

MNI (London)
--New Policy Announcements Include GBP2bln Extra For Social Housing And Energy
Price Caps
By Kieran Williams
     LONDON (MNI) - UK Prime Minister Theresa May delivered her speech at the
Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, announcing several fresh policy
initiatives, though discussion in the wake of the speech will be focused on
other areas. 
     May began her speech with an apology for the campaign and result in the
recent election where the Tories did not win the majority and said she took
personal responsibility.
May then proceeded with the usual party platitudes, that "each generation should
do better than the last" and detailing various achievements of the Conservative
government including employment at a record high and lower income taxes.
The substantive announcements in the speech, areas that were redacted from the
drafts released to the media due to being deemed market sensitive, were centred
around social housing and a cap on energy prices. May pledged that the
government would fix a "broken housing market" and announced an additioanl
GBP2bln to spend on affordable housing which would bring the total budget for
affordable housing to Stg 9 billion. 
     May added that she wants to send a clear message to housebuilders that the
government will ensure land is available for building.
On energy prices May said that draft legislation to implement an energy cap
would be published next week. The energy cap was one of the pledges in the Tory
party manifesto but has been under some scrutiny after a far milder proposal in
the Queen's speech which was seen as a partial capitulation and reflective of UK
Chancellor Philip Hammond's influence. 
Brexit was only briefly touched on, the negotiations can be frustrating said May
but she said "I am confident that we will find deal that works for Britain and
Europe". May has spoken extensively with the media at the conference this week
and has repeatedly emphasised that she set out her Brexit vision in her Florence
speech at the end of September and that the Cabinet were united around this
In a somewhat garbled narrative May praised the effects of free markets, saying
that the free market "remains the greatest agent of collective human progress
ever created," and that the free market must be defended.
May struggled throughout the speech with her voice, enduring several coughing
fits and spells of hoarseness throughout, even a lozenge from the Chancellor
failed to alleviate these symptoms. May was also handed a P45 form by comedian
Lee Nelson, ostensibly from Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson that cited the
reason for termination as "neither strong nor stable". 
     May attempted to recover from the prank with the quip that she would like
to give a P45 to Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, apeing a similar aphorism from
Johnson yesterday about how he would like to send Corbyn up in the first UK
space programme launch.
The prank will likely raise serious security concerns as to how Nelson was
allowed so close and how he managed to taunt May by waving the paper directly in
front of her for so long.
This brings to a close a somewhat underwhelming 2017 Conservative Party
Conference where Home Secretary Amber Rudd admitted that proceedings "started
off flat, we needed a bit of time to recover our mojo." Opinion seems divided as
to how the difficulties May endured during the speech will play. Supporters of
May praise her courage for continuing, while her critics adduce this as another
perceived failing.
--MNI London Bureau; +44 203 865 3809; email:
--MNI London Bureau; tel: +44 203-586-2225; email:
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MNI London Bureau | +44 203-865-3812 |

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