Conservative Party conference 2023: Everything you need to know including dates and agenda

Conservative Party conference is a place to inspire the Tory faithful but not to vote

Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will speak at the conference. AP
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The Conservative Party conference is a key date in the political calendar where party members gather to hear policies that they hope will keep them in power at the next election.

Party leaders give speeches to the faithful and ideas are cheered on by members of the adoring crowd.

But there is no vote on policy – the politicians can talk ambitions and dreams, but nothing is committed to.

It is a set-piece event that offers party leaders the chance to orchestrate a message, to inspire the troops and to grab public attention.

With a general election, likely before early 2025, it is possible that this is the last chance to consider policy without election pressure. A conference next year will either be post-election or in the looming shadow of the imminent election.

The annual event – unlike in the US, where party conferences are only held in presidential election years – is held away from Westminster while parliament is in recess.

When is it?

It is a four-day event from October 1-4 dominated by leaders and MPs giving speeches on the main stage. There is also a fringe event and a large number of receptions each day where ideas are discussed.

At least two events will look at Gulf regional politics and Britain.

“How can Britain adapt to a more unpredictable world?” will look at what a trade deal between the UK and the Gulf Co-operation Council would mean, while “Beyond the FTA” will look at expanding UK-Gulf relations and Britain’s economic interests in the region.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly will be at a Friends of Cyprus event and Islamic Relief UK will be holding an event focused on Pakistan.

Anyone who has been a party member for at least three months before the conference can attend as a delegate.

Where is it?

Manchester is the host this year but the Tories have previously visited Birmingham, Brighton and Blackpool.

The Manchester Central Convention Complex will be turned over to house the event.

Walkways inside the centre are mapped and named after Westminster favourites, including Parliament Street and Millbank, to help delegates find their way.

Politically, Manchester is a Labour stronghold but the wider region will be important at the next general election.

At the last one, the Conservatives won a number of north-western constituencies that usually vote Labour.

Will there be protests?

Yes. Protests are planned for each day just outside the secure zone of the conference itself and in the city's main squares.

Large numbers of protesters are anticipated on the Sunday.

What will be on the agenda?

The Conservative Party Conference is a largely a scripted event but things can also go wrong.

Politicians like to keep an eye on the message but they do not tell the story.

Last year after an intense battle to become Prime Minister, Liz Truss’s speech was criticised as lackluster and for a country that does not exist - and that was from relatively friendly outlets.

This year’s big topics – under the banner of Long Term Decisions for a Brighter Future - are expected to be domestically migration and internationally Ukraine.

The timing means it is possibly the last conference before a general election. Away from the main floor almost every angle of policy will be looked at, including a message from teachers’ unions and others wanting to win government support.

Young Conservatives hold breakfast meetings before workshops that include ‘Finding your target voters’ and ‘Tackling Daylight Robbery’.

Who speaks when?

Sunday October 1

Greg Hands MP, Chairman of the Conservative Party

Chris Heaton-Harris MP, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

Andrew Davies, Leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Senedd

David Davies MP, Secretary of State for Wales

Douglas Ross MP, Leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionists

Alister Jack MP, Secretary of State for Scotland

Grant Shapps MP, Secretary of State for Defence

James Cleverly MP, Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs

Monday October 2

Claire Coutinho MP, Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero

Mark Harper MP, Secretary of State for Transport

Lucy Frazer MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

Jeremy Hunt MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer

Kemi Badenoch MP, Secretary of State for Business and Trade

Mel Stride MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Therese Coffey MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Gillian Keegan MP, Secretary of State for Education

Tuesday October 3

Steve Barclay MP, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

Michelle Donelan MP, Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology

Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities

Alex Chalk MP, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice

Suella Braverman MP, Secretary of State for the Home Department

Wednesday October 4

Penny Mordaunt MP, Leader of the House of Commons

Johnny Mercer MP, Minister of State (Minister for Veterans’ Affairs)

Rishi Sunak MP, Prime Minister

Updated: September 27, 2023, 12:24 PM