Theresa May faces a critical period in her premiership.
The theme of her speech was ‘The British Dream’ but those in the hall and beyond witnessed the Prime Minister living out her worst nightmare.
This was supposed to be the moment she turned her premiership around – instead she was handed a P45.
‘Boris told me to do it’ comic protester Lee Nelson told reporters after being dragged out of the conference hall.
The Foreign Secretary will of course deny that – although I imagine he has dreamt of doing it himself a few times. Along with her failing voice it will be the moment everyone remembers from this conference and it could overshadow the whole party as it stumbles on.
But Nelson was far from May’s only problem.
Perhaps put off by the intervention she stumbled, stuttered and coughed her way through the speech. Some said she was stoic but the truth is she appears finished. Until May was given her marching orders conference was a flat, morose and often dull affair.
So this leader’s speech needed to be special – May had to deliver to prove to her party and the country that she was fit to carry on as Prime Minister.
The next few days are now critical. Can her team turn this around? Will the public actually feel sorry for a her as they watch and re-watch her floundering in front of the hall?
The policy and even the apologies will be overshadowed now of course. But saying sorry was welcomed by the faithful.
But people outside the hall will be left asking ‘what has really changed?’
There was a new direction from the Prime Minister though – The Maybot thinks she can take on Jeremy Corbyn by trying to convince people she is human after all.
May wants the cabinet to back her. She wants them to stop sniping at each other, forget their leadership ambitions and get on with the job.
But she doesn’t have the power. There is no fear or respect for her on her own front bench and this speech will do nothing to change that.
How long before the cabinet decide it really is time to hand May her P45?