Bernard Ingham: The conference speech Theresa May should deliver if she wants to save her country, her party and her premiership. Read on...

THIS is what I would advise Theresa May to say in her Tory party conference speech today:

Theresa May and her aides arriving at the Tory conference in Birmingham yesterday.

Fellow Conservatives:

The time has come for plain speaking. We urgently need to recognise four threats to Britain’s future.

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First, the divided state of our party. It has always been split over Europe. But now, with the crunch coming in the negotiations with the EU, we need to come together to make Brexit a reality on terms we can generally accept.

Theresa May and Philip Hammond chat to apprentices in Birmingham during the Tory conference.

I have been constructive and conciliatory in negotiations because that is the civilised British way. It has brought only “Non, non, non” and much humbug. I have therefore put the EU on notice to come up quickly with a settlement we can accept or we leave without a deal and they lose £39bn. The ball is now in their court.

Second, so long as Vladimir Putin is in the Kremlin, we are under threat from the Russian bear which has no compunction about poisoning and killing people on our soil. Some claim that leaving the EU will weaken Western solidarity. It is bunkum.

We are not withdrawing from Europe. We shall remain a key player in European defence through Nato and, as an independent, sovereign state, we wish to maintain close relations with all our European and Western allies.

It would help if our European partners in defence paid their whack towards the cost of Nato’s bulwark against Russian expansionism.

Third, many of our public services need reform and reconstruction. They have suffered from a Labour government opening the nation’s doors to immigrants and the horrendous budget deficit of £153bn left by Gordon Brown in 2010; far too much nonsensical political correctness; and our national preoccupation with Brexit.

It would have been utterly irresponsible for an incoming Tory/Liberal Democrat coalition not to seek to repair our ravaged public finances in 2010. We Conservatives have continued with that essential work only to have “austerity” thrown at us.

Thanks to our – Conservative – carefulness, we shall soon have a real chance as an independent nation controlling its borders, trade and laws to start the necessary renovation of what should be our pride and joy – the NHS, welfare of the vulnerable, home ownership, our education and law and order systems; and our defence machine.

Never let this nation forget: we, the Conservatives, are the only party in Britain that can do that now and in the foreseeable future.

Which brings me to the fourth and truly menacing threat: Jeremy Corbyn 
in No 10 leading a Marxist government hell bent on destroying our liberal democracy and with it our economy.

This is not to mention siding with every enemy of the UK.

We may laugh at the Corbyn cult. But he, John McDonnell and their Momentum activists will destroy the UK’s culture, which they hate, and replace it with a totalitarian regime that brooks no dissent. With them in charge, you can kiss goodbye to free speech and a free press.

Lest you think I exaggerate, just look at the vile abuse poured on dissidents, especially – and this is really frightening – if they are Jewish.

Please note: anti-social internet giants are on my reform list, too.

It is a great tragedy that the Labour Party has been hi-jacked by ultra-extremists. Its horrendously expensive programme is a serious threat to the 
jobs of every decent, ambitious individual in this land.

We Conservatives now have a duty to unite to protect Britain from the fate crippling Venezuela.

I am aware that some people wonder whether I am a true Conservative. Let me assure you that I do believe in political and economic freedom, enterprise, entrepreneurial flair, small government; and low taxes. I want to set the people free, not truss them up like Mr Corbyn.

But there is one proviso with which I am absolutely certain Margaret Thatcher, a moral giant, would agree. You cannot build a vibrant Britain on the backs of exploited workers with cavalier management or executive greed that so exercises shareholders these days.

Unprincipled capitalists are Jeremy Corbyn’s best recruiting sergeants and it is time they realised it.

My Conservatism is a moral, principled capitalism that spreads its bounty far and wide by reconciling regulation with investment and fair play.

I believe that, if we come together and put our backs into pursuing this noble aim, we can make Britain truly great in a world, whatever its troubles, of great opportunity. Let us start this day putting to flight these various threats to our way of life.