On 4 March 2017, over two hundred guests gathered at BPP University, Waterloo, for Conservative Progress’ first annual conference – ‘Believe in the UK: A Positive Post Brexit Vision’. It was a high-impact day all round, with speeches given from both Conservative grandees and Privy Councillors, and some of the most talented members of the Party’s 2015 Parliamentary intake.
Opening the conference, Nabil Najjar and Luke Springthorpe, Directors of Conservative Progress, set out their vision for the day, before welcoming Lord Howard, former leader of the Conservative Party, to deliver the opening address. Lord Howard spoke passionately about ensuring that the rights of consumers are respected in the corporate environment, and stayed on after his speech to take over a dozen questions from members of the audience.
In the hours that followed, insightful speeches were given by the Rt. Hon. Peter Lilley MP, who focussed on expediting the Brexit process itself, Suella Fernandes MP and Shanker Singham, former trade adviser to Mitt Romney’s Presidential Election Campaign, who discussed Britain’s bright future as a trading nation after Brexit, and Tim Loughton MP, who reassured the audience that our security and intelligence operations will not be compromised by Brexit.
Following a quick lunch provided by Conservative Progress, a truly insightful address was given by the Rt. Hon. Andrew Mitchell MP, who advocated Britain as a ‘development superpower’ and treated the audience to anecdotes from his time in office.
Following a speech by James Cleverly MP on trade, the audience enjoyed a double-act from two of the leading lights of the City of London, Dr. Ruth Lea and David Buik, who spoke of being bold in our Brexit negotiations, and backing the City to thrive after Brexit.
A well-received speech was then given by Kemi Badenoch AM, deputy leader of the GLA Conservatives, prompting many in the audience to call for her to stand as our next candidate for Mayor of London, which was followed by an address from Scott Mann MP, who made an impassioned appeal for the government to take a hard stance on fisheries policy after Brexit to ensure that Cornwall’s fishermen can get back to business.
Sunder Katwala of British Future spoke eloquently on immigration before the closing address of the conference was given by Dr. Syed Kamall MEP, leader of the ECR Group in the European Parliament. Closing the conference, Nabil and Luke reflected on a positive day, and spoke of the big plans ahead for Conservative Progress.
Social media was alive throughout the day, and by 11:30 our conference hashtag – #BackBritain – was already trending on Twitter. The press also took an interest in the event, and in the days that followed, articles about the event and speeches given appeared in The Express and the Daily Mail. Lord Howard was also invited to discuss his conference speech on Channel 4 News.
Our first conference was a success, and was described by many in the audience as ‘the best they had ever attended’.