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Blog: Brexit Brexit Brexit - the Tory conference Narrative

Photo: PA

by David Wood, Political Correspondent

The vote on June the 23rd giving us the option of remaining or departing the European Union sent shockwaves around the country, removed a Prime Minister and means we will be the first nation to trigger the Article 50, but seemingly it hasn't managed to split the Conservative party in two. Here in Birmingham for the party's annual major get together the main topic has been Brexit.

Of course we have heard time and time again from the new Prime Minister that 'Brexit means Brexit and we're going to make a success of it" but we still haven't had any detail really of what it means yet. Theresa May has told her party she will trigger our exit from the EU by the end of March, a vague time table then that has been welcomed by her MP's, even those who didn't vote for Brexit.

Prime Minister Theresa May greets delegates after her speech in the first day of the Conservative party conference at the International Convention Centre, ICC, Birmingham. Credit: PA

But underneath the smiles and welcomes for the new PM is an underlying tension about what Brexit actually means. On the whole those who voted to remain in the union have accepted the vote result but are nervous. Neil Carmichael the Stroud MP is one of the few to stick his head above the parapet and call for our relationship with the European Union to be almost the same as it is now - in other words not a 'hard Brexit'.

Credit: PA

Although others are more keen to get on with our departure. Speaking to conference today Liam Fox MP, the International Trade Secretary and keen Leaver, spoke of the UK becoming a great trading nation once again. There was real enthusiasm from the North Somerset MP to get on with forging trade deals across the globe but he joked that as Boris Johnson keeps reminding him he can't get on it until we have actually split off from the EU.

Liam Fox, Secretary of State for International Trade, gives a speech to delegates in the second day of the Conservative party conference. Credit: PA
Boris Johnson applauded after Liam Fox's speech in the second day of the Conservative party conference. Credit: PA

Every Secretary of State who's taken to the stage in the first half of this conference has said how Brexit will benefit their are of Government but all are staying away from giving a running commentary on policy. I've spoken with a number of our Conservative MP's who voted to remain in the EU and despite being nervous about how Brexit will pan out, they fully support the PM keeping her negotiating cards close to her chest before she formally starts talking to EU other leaders.

One thing is clear here in Birmingham though and it's that the Government believes it will make a success of Brexit but I imagine it'll be months, if not years, before we actually find out what it means!