Priti Patel says public want delivery on small boats pledge
With three days in the books at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, all that is left now is the leader’s speech from Rishi Sunak.
But with much of the chatter being about future leaders after an election defeat many expect in 2024, it is clear there are already winners and losers from the Manchester Central conference hall.
It has been a good week for the right of the party who’ve had a fightback after last year’s debacle before Liz Truss was ousted.
And the conference has not had any spectacular fails like Liz Truss being forced to ditch her 45p higher rate income tax cut.
But with all to play for in the future, this is whose stock is up and whose stock is down.
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UP: Dame Priti Patel
Dame Priti Patel has been the most popular face at conference this week and a thorn in the side of the current party leadership.
An ally of Boris Johnson, she’s been the favourite for activists at events throughout the party gathering.
The “champion of the grassroots” gave a barnstorming speech at the Conservative Democratic Organisation (CDO) gala dinner on Sunday night, so good that those present described it as a leadership pitch.
Numerous more followed as she led the rebellion against tax rises, spoke at the growth rally, the rally for the manifesto and for free speech.
By the time she gave her last speech today in the Friends Meeting House opposite the main venue, activists were calling for her to be leader.
If Dame Priti, who called for unity and members to back Rishi Sunak, wanted to get herself in the leadership stakes then she has more than succeeded.
Perhaps though the highlight was her dancing with Nigel Farage – a partnership which could see some interesting developments in the months to come.
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DOWN: Boris Johnson
One name has barely been mentioned at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester – Boris Johnson.
It is not because of Partygate or to spare the blushes of Mr Sunak, but it feels like the party has moved on even if they do miss the former Prime Minister.
While the Express.co.uk video team found members who admitted they miss Mr Johnson, his own supporters are now looking forward not back.
The focus is on alternative leadership candidates like Dame Priti or Sir Jake Berry.
But even more, it is on policies and changing them – pulling back more on Net Zero, cutting taxes and tackling woke ideology.
UP: Suella Braverman
Guest of honour at the Daily Express, Common Sense, Blue Collar drinks reception, Ms Braverman is now the cabinet minister who commands the support of MPs on the right of the party.
She was on a roll before conference after she took on the international establishment over illegal migration rules in the ECHR and Refugee Convention.
It is clear she is popular among the members and has persuaded MPs on the right of the party who were backing others to come to her camp instead.
Lee Anderson’s endorsement of her speech has been a particularly interesting development with some whispers they could be a joint ticket in the future.
There have been some missteps, not least standing on a guide dog and London Assembly member Andrew Boff heckling her about her views on the trans debate.
But Ms Braverman is confidently bestriding this conference and her stock is rising.
DOWN: Kemi Badenoch
The loser to Braverman’s rise in popularity is Kemi Badenoch who will essentially be contesting for support from the same wing of the party in a potential leadership election.
Ms Badenoch looked weak when she appeared to follow Braverman in calling for the UK to leave the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) in an interview with The Sunday Times.
Some thought she was adopting the view to keep her stock up on the right.
But then the row that she felt her views on the ECHR had been spun out of proportion did not provide a good look.
She has not done much wrong and her speech was well received but it was overshadowed by events outside the main conference hall on the fringe which suggested attention is moving away from the woman who became the darling of last year’s leadership contest.
UP: Liz Truss
After the humiliation of seeing her Premiership collapse in 49 days last year, Liz Truss has clearly enjoyed herself at this year’s conference.
This time last year she was being badgered and forced into U-turns by her own MPs.
But at this conference in Manchester, hundreds queued to hear Ms Truss’s bravado speech on “axeing the taxes” at her Growth Rally.
The fact is that many Tory members think Ms Truss’s ideas were right and polling suggests the majority of them are backed by the public too.
The continued awful poll results for Mr Sunak and the economic problems have helped both vindicate her and restore her reputation in short order.
The former Prime Minister was in impressive form when she dined with the Daily Express with a very detailed and cogent analysis of how to fix the country.
But what is most obvious is that her confidence and spark are back.
Truss may not be leader again but she certainly could be a King or Queen maker.
DOWN: Mark Harper
Transport Secretary Mark Harper started the week really strong when he spoke to the Daily Express and positioned himself as the champion of the motorist.
But there is no escaping that the fiasco around HS2, whether the high-speed rail link to Manchester has been cancelled or not, has left him a beleaguered man.
It is particularly embarrassing that this row is taking place in Manchester the supposed destination.
But avoiding mentioning it in his speech, and not being able to answer questions has all made him look like a man who has lost control of the steam engine careering into his reputation.
Overall the issue has cast a shadow over the week for the government as a whole and while Chancellor Jeremy Hunt and the Treasury are really to blame it will be Harper who carries the can.
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