THERESA MAY faces a number of formidable challenges as she delivers the closing speech to the Tory conference. Unlike last year when her very future as Prime Minister was on the line, her challenge is to save her Brexit plan that was agreed at Chequers.
She must also hope that her voice holds out – and she does not suffer the mishaps of 12 months ago – as she responds to the grandstanding of leader-in-waiting Boris Johnson that came moments after Sajid Javid, the ambitious Home Secretary, set out his own narrative as the proud son of an immigrant bus driver.
And, in doing so, the Prime Minister needs to set out a future vision for Britain that actually resonates with the country at large and attempts to unite her divided party at this key moment in Brexit negotiations with the EU.
It’s a task made harder by Mrs May’s inflexibility of immigration. For, while the political and economic motivations of Brexit supporters are still open to conjecture, no one voted to compromise the care sector.
Yet this is precisely what will happen as a consequence of the Tory leader’s promised crackdown against low-skilled European workers in order to appease her Eurosceptic opponents. For, by appearing to be so arbitrary over immigration rules, and their interpretation, she’s making it harder for carers from overseas to come to work in this country when the need for such staff in the NHS – and care sector – has never been greater as a result of an ageing society.
With the Government already having to announce emergency funding to prop up the social care system this winter, the need for a long-term care plan, and joined-up policy-making, has never been greater. The question is whether Mrs May can show that she has the authority, and ability, deliver such a social policy – and Brexit – when Mr Johnson receives a standing ovation for simply saying ‘chuck Chequers’.