David Cameron's speech - live blog

Minute-by-minute coverage of the Prime Minister's speech to the Conservative conference.

15:47 Closing his speech, Cameron returns to the theme of optimism. "It's not the size of the dog in the fight - it's the size of the fight in the dog," he says. Our best days are ahead of us. But with unemployment up and growth down, how many will feel the same way?

15:45 Now it's health and safety. "Britannia didn't rule the waves with her armbands on," says Cameron, declaring that he has brought "common sense" to government. This speech is a Daily Mail reader's wet dream.

15:43 Cameron mounts a conservative defence of gay marriage. "I don't support gay marriage in spite of being a conservative, I support gay marriage because I am a conservative", he says. Applause from the floor.

15:39 In another dig at Labour, Cameron says that the Conservatives don't boo their former leaders, they are proud of them. Loudest applause so far.

15:38 Promising a new "Tory housing revolution", Cameron vows to use the proceeds from the right-to-buy scheme to build new houses.

15:35 Turning to immigration, Cameron says that government is "clamping" down on illegal migrants. But he makes no mention of his unachievable pledge to reduce net migration to "tens of thousands" a year.

15:34 "Rigour back in education, standards back in schools ... the Conservatives are back in government," says Cameron.

15:34 Cameron says that he wants to see private schools start academies in the state sector. The "apartheid" between the private sector and the state sector must end.

15:30 The education system has been "infected by an ideology that makes excuses for failure," says Cameron. He adds that he is "disguted" by the idea that we should "aim for less for a poor child than a rich child".

15:30 Again refusing to attack Miliband directly, Cameron says that Labour gave us "the casino economy and the welfare society". It falls to the Conservatives to lift the poorest up.

15:29 Responding to his critics, Cameron says: "take your arguments down the job centre because we are going to get Britain back to work."

15:28 Cameron defends the government's planning reforms and rightly notes that just 9 per cent of land is built up.

15:27 Mounting a full-throated attack on EU regulation, Cameron cites a directive on whether diabetics should be allowed to drive.

15:25 He vows to cut employment regulation and accuses critics of forgetting the most important right of all: to have a job in the first place.

15:23 Without referring to Ed Miliband by name, Cameron rebukes the Labour leader. You will not achieve growth by dividing industries into "saints and sinners," he says. In his speech to the Labour conference, Miliband divided companies into "producers and predators".

15:21 Cameron says that it is fair for public sector workers to "work a little longer and pay a little more". What is not fair is to go on strike and hurt the country's recovery.

15:20 Audaciously claiming that the Tories are "the party of the NHS", Cameron says that only the Conservatives promised to increase spending on the health service.

15:19 "This is a one-nation deficit reduction plan from a one-nation party," Cameron says.

15:18 The richest are bearing the burden of austerity, claims Cameron. But, as the IFS has repeatedly showed, the coalition's measures hit the poorest hardest.

15:15 Cheers as Cameron promises that under his leadership "this country will never join the euro". But is anyone really surprised?

15:14 Cameron backs Plan A. "Our plan is right and it will work," he says.

15:13 This wasn't a "normal recession," says Cameron, it was "a debt crisis". And excessive government borrowing was primarily to blame.

15:11 The threat to the economy and to Britain is as serious in 2008, says Cameron. Even "mighty America's" ability to meet its debts is in question.

15:08 Cameron is sounding and looking unusually tired. On the bright side, it will counter those who claim he doesn't put the hours in.

15:06 Cameron attacks the politics of decline. It was depressing, he says, that some people thought not only that we shouldn't take action in Libya but that we couldn't.

15:04 Cameron turns to Libya and says we should proud of the role Britain played in helping Libyans "take back their country".

15:03 Turning to the Bible for inspiration, Cameron says that this is a country and a party that "never walks on by".

15:02 Cameron jokes that Osborne's book of choice is The Man Who Would Be King and that Boris's is The Joy Of Cycling. But after yesterday, he quips, there should be a group reading of Mog The Cat.

15:01 A rather hoarse-sounding Cameron praises the No to AV campaign: "you kicked that excuse for a voting system off the political agenda for a generation".

15:00 His emphasis is clear from the start: "In these difficult times, it is leadership that we need".

14:59 Cameron finally takes to the stage to the sound of The Killers' "All These Things That I've Done".

14:46 Large parts of the hall remain empty, a sign that fewer and fewer party activists are attending the conference.

14:25 Cameron has reportedly been delayed and may not start speaking until 2:55pm. A few more rewrites, perhaps?

 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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The 11 things we know after the Brexit plan debate

Labour may just have fallen into a trap. 

On Wednesday, both Labour and Tory MPs filed out of the Commons together to back a motion calling on the Prime Minister to commit to publish the government’s Brexit plan before Article 50 is triggered in March 2017. 

The motion was proposed by Labour, but the government agreed to back it after inserting its own amendment calling on MPs to “respect the wishes of the United Kingdom” and adhere to the original timetable. 

With questions on everything from the customs union to the Northern Irish border, it is clear that the Brexit minister David Davis will have a busy Christmas. Meanwhile, his declared intention to stay schtum about the meat of Brexit negotiations for now means the nation has been hanging off every titbit of news, including a snapped memo reading “have cake and eat it”. 

So, with confusion abounding, here is what we know from the Brexit plan debate: 

1. The government will set out a Brexit plan before triggering Article 50

The Brexit minister David Davis said that Parliament will get to hear the government’s “strategic plans” ahead of triggering Article 50, but that this will not include anything that will “jeopardise our negotiating position”. 

While this is something of a victory for the Remain MPs and the Opposition, the devil is in the detail. For example, this could still mean anything from a white paper to a brief description released days before the March deadline.

2. Parliament will get a say on converting EU law into UK law

Davis repeated that the Great Repeal Bill, which scraps the European Communities Act 1972, will be presented to the Commons during the two-year period following Article 50.

He said: “After that there will be a series of consequential legislative measures, some primary, some secondary, and on every measure the House will have a vote and say.”

In other words, MPs will get to debate how existing EU law is converted to UK law. But, crucially, that isn’t the same as getting to debate the trade negotiations. And the crucial trade-off between access to the single market versus freedom of movement is likely to be decided there. 

3. Parliament is almost sure to get a final vote on the Brexit deal

The European Parliament is expected to vote on the final Brexit deal, which means the government accepts it also needs parliamentary approval. Davis said: “It is inconceivable to me that if the European Parliament has a vote, this House does not.”

Davis also pledged to keep MPs as well-informed as MEPs will be.

However, as shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer pointed out to The New Statesman, this could still leave MPs facing the choice of passing a Brexit deal they disagree with or plunging into a post-EU abyss. 

4. The government still plans to trigger Article 50 in March

With German and French elections planned for 2017, Labour MP Geraint Davies asked if there was any point triggering Article 50 before the autumn. 

But Davis said there were 15 elections scheduled during the negotiation process, so such kind of delay was “simply not possible”. 

5. Themed debates are a clue to Brexit priorities

One way to get a measure of the government’s priorities is the themed debates it is holding on various areas covered by EU law, including two already held on workers’ rights and transport.  

Davis mentioned themed debates as a key way his department would be held to account. 

It's not exactly disclosure, but it is one step better than relying on a camera man papping advisers as they walk into No.10 with their notes on show. 

6. The immigration policy is likely to focus on unskilled migrants

At the Tory party conference, Theresa May hinted at a draconian immigration policy that had little time for “citizens of the world”, while Davis said the “clear message” from the Brexit vote was “control immigration”.

He struck a softer tone in the debate, saying: “Free movement of people cannot continue as it is now, but this will not mean pulling up the drawbridge.”

The government would try to win “the global battle for talent”, he added. If the government intends to stick to its migration target and, as this suggests, will keep the criteria for skilled immigrants flexible, the main target for a clampdown is clearly unskilled labour.  

7. The government is still trying to stay in the customs union

Pressed about the customs union by Anna Soubry, the outspoken Tory backbencher, Davis said the government is looking at “several options”. This includes Norway, which is in the single market but not the customs union, and Switzerland, which is in neither but has a customs agreement. 

(For what it's worth, the EU describes this as "a series of bilateral agreements where Switzerland has agreed to take on certain aspects of EU legislation in exchange for accessing the EU's single market". It also notes that Swiss exports to the EU are focused on a few sectors, like chemicals, machinery and, yes, watches.)

8. The government wants the status quo on security

Davis said that on security and law enforcement “our aim is to preserve the current relationship as best we can”. 

He said there is a “clear mutual interest in continued co-operation” and signalled a willingness for the UK to pitch in to ensure Europe is secure across borders. 

One of the big tests for this commitment will be if the government opts into Europol legislation which comes into force next year.

9. The Chancellor is wooing industries

Robin Walker, the under-secretary for Brexit, said Philip Hammond and Brexit ministers were meeting organisations in the City, and had also met representatives from the aerospace, energy, farming, chemicals, car manufacturing and tourism industries. 

However, Labour has already attacked the government for playing favourites with its secretive Nissan deal. Brexit ministers have a fine line to walk between diplomacy and what looks like a bribe. 

10. Devolved administrations are causing trouble

A meeting with leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland ended badly, with the First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon publicly declaring it “deeply frustrating”. The Scottish government has since ramped up its attempts to block Brexit in the courts. 

Walker took a more conciliatory tone, saying that the PM was “committed to full engagement with the devolved administrations” and said he undertook the task of “listening to the concerns” of their representatives. 

11. Remain MPs may have just voted for a trap

Those MPs backing Remain were divided on whether to back the debate with the government’s amendment, with the Green co-leader Caroline Lucas calling it “the Tories’ trap”.

She argued that it meant signing up to invoking Article 50 by March, and imposing a “tight timetable” and “arbitrary deadline”, all for a vaguely-worded Brexit plan. In the end, Lucas was one of the Remainers who voted against the motion, along with the SNP. 

George agrees – you can read his analysis of the Brexit trap here

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.