With the very make-up of those in attendance, the launch of the Popular Conservatism movement – former prime minister Liz Truss’s new faction of the Tory party – was always going to prompt some bizarre comments.
The event, in Westminster, saw a number of right-wing Tory MPs give their pitch on why there is scope for a new Tory “family” that they claim can inspire and unite the public.
Co-head Ms Truss was joined by well-known figures on the right of the party, including her former business secretary Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg and ex-deputy chairman Lee Anderson, as well as former Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage.
The group claims it is not a direct challenge to Rishi Sunak’s leadership, but it wants to pile pressure on the prime minister to cut taxes, adopt hardline policies on immigration and leave the European Convention on Human Rights.
Away from that, it also has some strong opinions on Covid lockdowns, green “weirdos” and “left-wing extremists” who are apparently undermining Britain and the Conservative Party.
Here, The Independent looks at some of the strangest key takeaways from today’s conference.
1. Liz Truss admits she never gets invited to dinner parties
The former prime minister admitted she “never gets invited” to dinner parties, as she condemned colleagues who are busy “looking at their next job”.
Ms. Truss – who managed 49 days as prime minister before resigning due to her disastrous mini budget – launched a blistering attack at Tory colleagues who are “looking at their next job”.
“Too many of our colleagues are looking at what jobs they get when they leave Parliament; they want to be popular at London dinner parties.”
She continued: “I never get invited to these parties.”
2. She accused those who support LGBT people and groups of ethnic minorities of being ‘left-wing extremists’
Ms Truss lambasted a number of issues, including “woke-ism”, net zero, and immigration and said that governments are “constantly being stymied” when trying to respond to them in a Conservative way.
“Why is this?” she asked, “I believe the fundamental issue is that for years and years and years, and I think it goes back two decades, Conservatives have not taken on the left-wing extremists.”
She claimed leftists are “taking power away from families and giving it to the state and unelected bodies”, who is drowning out the need for cheaper energy.
She also claimed “environmentalists” and those who are “in favour of supporting LGBT people or groups of ethnic minorities” were “left-wing extremists”.
The former PM also hit out at the government for “pandering to the anti-capitalists”, and not siding with ordinary people who believe “the wokery” is “nonsense”.
3. Only half of the MPs originally billed to speak actually turned up
Of the original four MPs who had been billed to speak – Liz Truss, Jacob Rees-Mogg, former cabinet minister Ranil Jayawardena, and Simon Clarke –only the first two actually showed up.
Mr Jayawardena, who served as environment secretary under Truss, had been billed as one of the four senior speakers, but on Monday he told the press: “I won’t be there tomorrow. I’ll keep making the positive case for growth from the common ground of British politics.”
Meanwhile, Sir Simon Clarke was removed from the lineup after he launched an attack on the prime minister in a scathing op-ed in the Telegraph. Truss was said to have kicked Sir Simon out of the lineup to avoid looking disloyal.
4. Right-wing rising star Mhairi Fraser compared the state to Mary Poppins
Mhairi Fraser, a rising star on the Tory right and prospective candidate for Epsom and Ewell, condemned the Covid lockdowns – dubbing it “nanny in her most monstrous form”.
She said that “once one freedom is surrendered, other freedoms follow because the state is no Mary Poppins”.
“Let us never forget the nanny in her most monstrous form – the Covid lockdowns,” she warned the crowd.
5. Truss suggests the country is full of secret Conservatives who agree with her
Ms. Truss warned that the left “have been on the march”.
Britain is “full of secret Conservatives - people who agree with us but don’t want to admit it.”
The shortest-serving PM in history said “the left have been on the march” in the UK.
She said the left don’t “admit they are socialists or communists anymore” but instead say they’re “environmentalists”.
“They say that they’re in favour of helping people across all communities. They are in favour of supporting LGBT people or groups of ethnic minorities,” she added.
6. Tory MP Lee Anderson claims net zero only matters to ‘the odd weirdo in the corner’
The former deputy chairman urged the PM to ditch green levies and told the conference that “net zero never comes up” with voters on the doorstep, apart from the “odd weirdo in the corner” who supports the Green Party.
Not many of his constituents “lie awake at night worrying about net zero”, the Ashfield MP told the conference, arguing that voters care far more about their own fuel bills.
7. Jacob Rees-Mogg condemned ‘international cabals’ of the European Court on Human Rights, World Health Organization and COP
Former minister for Brexit opportunities Jacob Rees-Mogg used his speech to attack the ECHR, World Health Organisation, and COP, calling them “international cabals and quangos telling hundreds of millions of people how to lead their lives”.
He also declared that the “age of Davos man is over” and said that around the world millions of voters have had enough of an “internationalist, unaccountable approach to governing”.
“We have to restore power to our democratic institutions and take it away from those that seek to override democracy,” he told the event. Judges are tied to the “international elite”, and “unaccountable, unelected” quangos are “plugged into EU lawmaking,” he said.
“We need to re-establish the traditional relationship between the judiciary and parliament,” he added.