Ministers leave plenty of empty seats at Conservative party conference

Ministers leave plenty of empty seats at Conservative party conference
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There was a time, back in the day, when cabinet ministers were the star attraction of the Conservative conference show. Attendees would queue round the block to hear from famous faces in the party and hear how they were going to tackle the biggest issues of the day.

But those days are no more. Instead, at this year's conference, Mr S has noticed that turnout in the main hall has been remarkably low. In fact, even the most recognisable members of cabinet have failed to fill up the main conference hall.

So, Mr S has cast his eye round the ICC in Birmingham to find out where Conservative members have gone:


Despite coming to conference with a big policy announcement on drugs, it looks like Sajid Javid has drawn the short straw and is speaking at the same time as Boris Johnson. And while the queue for Boris stretches round the block, Javid's 'crowd' is barely three rows deep:

[caption id="attachment_10161732" align="alignnone" width="680"]

Sajid Javid's audience[/caption]

They certainly weren't at Conservative chairman Brandon Lewis's event yesterday, when he made a strong bid to outnumber his audience.

Michael Gove, once a favourite among the membership, struggled to fill seats at his conference speech as well.

New foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt had a poor showing at his speech.

While there was not much interest at all in business secretary Greg Clark.

So, if delegates are not attending ministers' speeches any more, where have they gone? Mr S thinks he has the answer:

There were queues round the block to hear Jacob Rees-Mogg speak yesterday.

While a Brexit event with by Priti Patel was full to the brim today.

Clearly if May and her ministers are looking for a way out of the doldrums, they should wander outside the main conference hall...

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to or message @MrSteerpike

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