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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Staying in the EU would make it easier to tackle concerns about immigration, not less

Brexit is not only unlikely to deliver the control people want, it may actually undermine people’s faith in the system even further.

As Theresa May prepares to set out her latest plan for Brexit in Florence on Friday, those on all sides of the debate will wait to see if there are answers to fundamental questions about Britain’s future outside of the EU. Principle among those is how the UK immigration system will work. How can we respond to Leave voters’ concerns, while at the same time ensuring our economy isn’t badly damaged?

We must challenge the basic premise of the Vote Leave campaign: that dealing with public’s concern about immigration means we have to leave the EU and Single Market.

In fact the opposite is true. Our study into the options available to the UK shows that we are more likely to be able to restore faith in the system by staying within Europe and reforming free movement, than by leaving.

First, there are ways to exercise greater control over EU migration without needing to change the rules. It is not true that the current system of free movement is "unconditional", as recently claimed in a leaked Home Office paper. In fact, there is already considerable scope under existing EU rules to limit free movement.

EU rules state that in order to be given a right to reside, EU migrants must be able to demonstrate proof that they are either working, actively seeking work, or self-sufficient, otherwise they can be proactively removed after three months.

But unlike other continental systems, the UK has chosen not to operate a worker registration system for EU nationals and thus has no way of tracking where they are or what they’re doing. This could be changed tomorrow, if the government were so minded.

Other reforms being discussed at the highest levels within Europe would help deal with the sense that those coming to the UK drive down wages and conditions. The UK could make common cause with President Macron in France, who is pushing for reform of the so-called "Posted Workers Directive", so that companies seeking to bring in workers from abroad have to pay those workers at the same rate as local staff. It could also follow the advice of the TUC and implement domestic reforms of our labour market to prevent exploitation and undercutting.

Instead, the UK government has chosen to oppose reform of the Posted Workers Directive and made it clear that it has no interest in labour market reform.

Second, achieving more substantive change to free movement rules is not as implausible as often portrayed. Specifically, allowing member states to enact safeguards to slow the pace of change in local communities is not unrealistic. While the principle of free movement is a cornerstone of the European project, how it is applied in practice has evolved. And given that other countries, such as France, have expressed concern and called for reform, it is likely to evolve further.

The reforms to free movement negotiated by David Cameron in 2016 illustrate that the EU Commission can be realistic. Cameron’s agreement (which focused primarily on benefits) also provides an important legal and political precedent, with the Commission having agreed to introduce "safeguards" to respond to "situations of inflow of workers from other Member States of an exceptional magnitude over an extended period of time".

Similar precedents can be found within a number of other EU agreements, including the Acts of Accession of new Member States, the European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). The UK should seek a strengthened version of Cameron’s "emergency brake", which could be activated in the event of "exceptional inflows" from within the EU. We are not the first to argue this.

Of course some will say that it is unrealistic to expect the UK to be able to get more than Cameron achieved in 2016. But put yourself if in the shoes of the EU. If you believe in a project and want it to succeed, moral imperative is balanced with realism and it hardly needs pointing out that the political context has radically shifted since Cameron’s negotiation.

In contrast, a "hard Brexit" will not deliver the "control of our borders" that Brexiteers have promised. As our report makes clear, the hospitality, food, manufacturing and social care sectors heavily depend on EU workers. Given current employment rates, this means huge labour shortages.

These shortages cannot be wished away with vague assertions about "rejoining the world" by the ultra free-market Brexiteers. This is about looking after our elderly and putting food on our tables. If the UK leaves in April 2019, it is likely that the government will continue to want most categories of EU migration to continue. And whatever controls are introduced post-Brexit are unlikely to be enforced at the border (doing so would cause havoc, given our continued commitment to visa-free travel).  Instead we would be likely to see an upsurge in illegal migration from within the EU, with people arriving at the border as "visitors" but then staying on to seek work. This is likely to worsen problems around integration, whereby migrants come and go in large numbers, without putting down roots.

We can do this a different way. The important issues that most drive public concern about EU migration - lack of control, undercutting, pace of change - can be dealt with either within current rules or by seeking reform within the EU.

The harsh truth is that Brexit is not only unlikely to deliver the control people want, it may actually undermine people’s faith in the system even further.

Some will say that the entire line of argument contained here is dangerous, since it risks playing into an anti-immigrant narrative, rather than emphasising migration’s benefits. This is an argument for the ivory tower, not the real world.

There is a world of difference between pandering to prejudice and acknowledging that whilst EU migration has brought economic benefits to the UK, it has also created pressures, for example, relating to population churn within local communities.

The best way to secure public consent for free movement, in particular, and immigration in general, is to be clear about where those pressures manifest and find ways of dealing with them, consistent with keeping the UK within the EU.

This is neither an attempt at triangulation nor impractical idealism. It’s about making sure we understand the consequences of one of the biggest decisions this country has ever taken, and considering a different course.

Harvey Redgrave is a senior policy fellow at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change and director of strategy at Crest Advisory.