David Cameron arrives at Tory party conference amid anti-austerity protests

Published: Saturday 3rd October 2015 by The News Editor

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David Cameron has arrived at the Tory party conference in Manchester amid protests at the Government’s austerity measures.

The Prime Minister did not speak to waiting reporters as he arrived at the Midlands hotel in the city centre.

Outside the secure zone surrounding the hotel and Manchester Central conference centre, a handful of demonstrators staged a noisy protest.

Thousands of protesters are expected to take part in a march on Sunday as the conference formally opens, while Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is expected to address a public meeting in Manchester on Monday.

The issue of Europe looks set to dominate the agenda, with Cabinet ministers making high profile interventions ahead of the gathering.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond warned Britain will vote to reject a new deal with Brussels unless the European Union agrees to “substantial” permanent reforms.

He told the Daily Telegraph the British public would deliver “a raspberry” to the Government if Mr Cameron’s efforts to renegotiate the relationship with the EU did not secure “robust” changes.

Both Mr Hammond and Business Secretary Sajid Javid stressed that the Prime Minister had ruled nothing out – indicating he could be prepared to recommend a British exit from the EU if he failed to secure key reforms.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said the twin crises of mass migration and Greek debt have hit the EU like an “an out-of-control bulldozer” and made leaders on the continent more receptive to Mr Cameron’s drive for reform.

Mr Hammond said: “If we can’t get the commitments we need from our European partners on things like Britain being outside the commitment to ever-closer union … If we can’t get these things then, as the Prime Minister has said, we rule nothing out.

“That’s why the package will have to be a robust, substantial and irreversible package of change with proper binding legal force. Because if we try to put to the British people a package which is anything less, we will get a raspberry from them.”

He suggested the Cabinet would have a say in the final recommendation of whether to recommend staying in or leaving the EU.

“The job for the Cabinet will be to look at the deal that we’re able to negotiate and decide if – on balance – it is in Britain’s best interest to stay in a European Union, reformed, as per the deal we’ve negotiated or not.”

Mr Javid told the Daily Mail: “The right approach now is to put all our efforts into getting the changes that we want to see and increasing the chance of getting those.

“We will then look at what we have achieved and that’s the time to make up our mind up.

“But remember, the PM has also said nothing is off the table.”

Following the crises that have rocked Europe, Mr Duncan Smith told the Guardian: “We are getting a better hearing because people are waking up to these things. It is suddenly becoming clear that actually you cannot paper over the cracks and say ‘it’s alright, it’s only the British’.

“We still have the crisis over the euro and Greece, and then the rows over Schengen border controls are like nothing I have ever seen. It is massive.”

Mr Duncan Smith, who claimed the Germans were “petrified” by the prospect of Brexit, added: “Nothing is the same after this thing. The European Union has just been hit by an out-of-control bulldozer that has just gone straight through the middle of them.”

Rival party leaders usually stay away from opponents’ conferences, but Labour leader Mr Corbyn will break with tradition by visiting Manchester during the gathering.

On Monday he will address a public meeting organised by the Communication Workers’ Union.

Mr Corbyn, who has called for a “kinder” politics, said on Twitter: “Ahead of Tory Conference I urge all activists to focus on policy & to take no part in personal attacks.”

Published: Saturday 3rd October 2015 by The News Editor

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