The BPA reports on the Conservative Conference in Birmingham: ‘Chuck Chequers, Boris and an upbeat PM…’

Another Sunday, another Party Conference for the BPA; in Birmingham this week with the Conservative Party. As with Labour conference a week earlier, there were many other interesting fringe meetings focussing on trade, particularly in terms of Brexit, as you might expect given the overwhelming, wall-to-wall prominence of the Conservative Government’s EUexit policy. Grassroots members were enthusiastically handing out ‘Chuck Chequers’ badges to arriving delegates and visitors. Party members were also queuing around the proverbial block to get into a room with Boris Johnson or Jacob Rees-Mogg. The BPAmanaged to find ourselves in the middle of one of the main such events: a heavily oversubscribed ‘Leave Means Leave’ rally with Mr Rees-Mogg and the outspoken owner of Wetherspoons chain of pubs, Tim Martin, where the slogan was “no deal, no problem”. Mr Rees-Mogg made a characteristically articulate case for leaving without a deal, to the roaring delight of those in the room, although at one point he was interrupted by a minor pro-EUprotest outside the venue. Mr Martin – a prominent backer of Brexit – then told the crowds that his pub chain is preparing for “clogged ports” by exploring options for buying more British beers, wines and spirits and also from other, more exotic non-EUdestinations such as Australia. It was quite an atmosphere and certainly an event that will last in the memory.

Many will have witnessed the Prime Ministerdancing onto the stage on the closing day to reassert the case for the Government’s central policy plank: Chequers. She managed to do so without actually saying the word and members may notice that Ministers will from now on be referring to it as a trade deal rather than ‘Chequers’, which has become a somewhat toxic label for the Cabinet.

Read the full British Ports Association article on their website here

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