Theresa May's party conference speech descended into chaos as a prankster handed her a P45 unemployment notice on stage.
Comedian Lee Nelson - real name Simon Brodkin - joked that Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson had asked him to perform the stunt.
Amid frantic scenes he was bundled out of the conference hall and through the exhibition stands by security staff at the Manchester Central venue.
He told reporters: "Boris told me to do it. He's left me in the lurch."
The incident happened just moments after Mrs May apologised to her party for her performance in the botched campaign for this year's snap election.
She admitted the campaign was "too scripted, too presidential" and said she took responsibility for its shortcomings.
After calling an election three years early in the hope of increasing her dominance in the House of Commons, Mrs May lost 13 MPs and forfeited her majority, forcing her into a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party.
Nelson has a track record of pulling off similar stunts. He once threw a pile of dollars at the then Fifa president Sepp Blatter during a press conference.
Mrs May's speech was also interrupted by fits of coughing, which she laughed off.
The Conservatives had been criticised for the levels of security outside the conference venue in central Manchester, with measures described as a 'ring of steel', but how the prankster managed to evade security will raise questions about the policing and safety of the event.
Nelson was later seen being led from the conference hall in Manchester in handcuffs.
The comedian, whose stage name is Lee Nelson, made a name for himself with a stunt at a press conference where he showered scandal-hit Fifa president Sepp Blatter with money.
He was arrested by Swiss authorities for trespassing at the event in July 2015 but later released.
He was given a conditional caution after he duped security at Manchester City's game at Everton in March 2013 and limbered up alongside star players.
Police later confirmed the arrest, and said that Brodkin had the necessary security passes to access the conference venue:
A Downing Street source declined to discuss the Prime Minister's security arrangements.
Asked how Mrs May had reacted to being approached on stage during her speech, the source said that everyone had seen her joke about it shortly afterwards.
Senior Conservative MP George Freeman, head of the Prime Minister's policy board, said of the prankster's interruption: "There should be some very serious questions - that could have been a terrorist."