Tories claim MPs will deliver 'economic hit' to Manchester if they 'scupper' party conference

PUBLISHED: 23:18 25 September 2019 | UPDATED: 23:35 25 September 2019

A police officer outside the Conservative Party annual conference. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA.

A police officer outside the Conservative Party annual conference. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA.

PA Archive/PA Images

The Tories have warned that MPs will be voting to deliver an economic hit to Manchester if they vote to 'scupper' Conservative Party conference next week.

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MPs are expected to vote on a motion for a three-day Commons recess starting on Monday, which would enable Conservative ministers and MPs to attend as normal.

However, with both Labour and the Liberal Democrats signalling their opposition and with no Tory majority in parliament the Government is facing a likely defeat.

A senior Tory source insisted the conference would go ahead anyway but acknowledged that it may have to be "scaled back" in places if MPs have to remain at Westminster.

With the four-day event which starts on Sunday estimated to be worth more than £30 million to Manchester, the source said that it would be local businesses which would suffer if it was curtailed.

A No 10 source said: "If they do not allow Conservative Party conference to go ahead with a recess at the same time, it will be incredibly damaging for the economy of Manchester."

A senior Tory source added: "It is clear that there is a long-standing convention that the Commons does not meet during the party conferences of the main political parties

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"I would assume we would have to scale it back in certain places. We will try to manage it as best we can.

"The Labour Party, if they are doing this, it would be a nakedly political act. That is their choice but they should be held to account for the consequences of that nakedly political act."

Boris Johnson is due to give his keynote speech on Wednesday but that would almost certainly have to be rescheduled if the recess was blocked as it would clash with Prime Minister's Questions.

The MP for Manchester Central said "livelihoods depend on" the Conservatives' annual conference going ahead in the city.

Labour's Lucy Powell said given the "lack of trust" between parties at the moment it is unlikely that opposition MPs will back Tory calls for a short parliamentary recess so their conference can go ahead as planned.

During a statement by the Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg, Powell added: "Can I ask at this 11th-hour for the Leader of the House to continue the cross-party conversations that have been happening today?"

Rees Mogg replied: "It is important to the Manchester economy that the conference goes ahead and it is a concern for the Conservative Party as well as for the government that it shouldn't be cancelled for that reason.

"Usual channels, conversations, are always extremely welcome, but the honourable lady points out there is not a great deal of trust at the moment, so let us hope for the best but I wouldn't hold my breath."

Asked about the vote on Radio 4's Today programme, Jeremy Corbyn said: "I don't see why Boris Johnson and his team should be able I run away from accountability yet again".

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