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Liz Truss’s Tory Conference Speech Interrupted By Protesters

Liz Truss’s Tory Conference Speech Interrupted By Protesters

Liz Truss was interrupted by Greenpeace protesters during her party conference speech (Alamy)

4 min read

Liz Truss’s first speech to Conservative party conference as prime minister was interrupted by Greenpeace protesters who heckled her over plans to restart fracking.

Around 10 minutes into her keynote address to Conservative members in Birmingham on Wednesday, two women in the audience stood up holding a banner saying “who voted for this?”.

Truss was heard saying “let’s get them removed” as others – including Tory backbench MP Robin Millar – pulled away their banner and security staff led them out to cheers.

Supporters of the prime minister booed the protesters, while chants of "get them out" erupted as they were removed from the crowd. 

An unrattled Truss appeared to make light of the protest, saying she was due to talk about an “anti-growth coalition” in the UK, but they had arrived early.

After the women were removed, Greenpeace confirmed they were its UK’s head of public affairs Rebecca Newsom, and policy officer Ami McCarthy.

The environmental campaign group said in a post on Twitter that the pair interrupted the speech "to denounce the Prime Minister 'shredding' her party's 2019 manifesto promises”.

"The PM is U-turning on fracking, strong climate action, and world-leading environmental protections. Who voted for this?" they added. 

Millar later told PoliticsHome he grabbed the banner because “it was a really good speech and I was just affronted by the thought that someone was being as rude as to interrupt it”.

He added: “I've got a lot of sympathy with questions about the environment, but there's a time and place for it, and in the hall at a time like that isn’t it.

“You’re dealing with the leader of the fifth largest economy in the world, making a speech which is on an international platform, and that is not the place to make those comments.”

Earlier Truss received a standing ovation as she arrived in the hall.  

"I stand here today as the first Prime Minister of our country to have gone to a comprehensive school." she told Conservative Party members. 

She added: "That taught me two things: one is that we have huge talent across our country and two that we're not making enough of it.

"This is a great country. I'm so proud of who we are and what we stand for, but I know that we can do better and I know that we must do better and that's why I entered politics.

"I want to live in a country where hard work's rewarded, where women can walk home safely at night and where our children have a better future."

Truss railed against what she called the "anti-growth coalition" who are trying to hold the country back.

"Labour, the Lib Dems, the SNP, the militant unions, the vested interests dressed up as think tanks, the talking heads, the Brexit deniers, Extinction Rebellion and some of the people we had in the hall earlier," she said.

"The fact is they prefer protesting to doing. They prefer talking on Twitter to taking tough decisions.

"They taxi from north London townhouses to the BBC studio to dismiss anyone challenging the status quo.

"From broadcast to podcast, they peddle the same old answers. It's always more taxes, more regulation and more meddling. Wrong, wrong, wrong."

Northern Ireland minister Steve Baker told PoliticsHome after the speech that the Greenpeace hecklers might have helped the PM, as she “dealt with them extremely effectively” and then got into her stride as she targeted the “anti-growth coalition”.

He said the Tory party has been waiting “30 years for a leader with the intellectual heft and keel” to push through the free market policies Truss has been pursuing, and praised the speech for focusing on plans to grow the economy.

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