Tory conference: ‘These are exciting times for the East,’ says chairman

Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis has backed the East while at party conferencePhoto: PA / Stefan Rous

Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis has backed the East while at party conferencePhoto: PA / Stefan Rousseau - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

The Conservative Party chairman has told our region: 'We believe in the power of the East.'

Speaking to this paper, Brandon Lewis said he was confident the East would grow as a regional powerhouse and he was committed to fighting to secure the infrastructure spending needed to boost region.

And he admitted that East Anglia had missed out on cash in the past.

The Great Yarmouth MP said: 'One of the problems in the East is we have had decades of not getting the kind of investment we should have.

'I can remember when the old Labour government downgraded the A47. We have got that regraded, we have got £300 million going into the A47. That is good for my constituency but also other parts as well.

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'And when that is done we need to start building the case for full dualling of the A47.

'We got £100m for the third river crossing in Great Yarmouth and of course all of us – working cross party to achieve Norwich in 90 on the trains.

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'There is a lot of for us to do but there has been a lot going on with the A11 and the investments in the A47 so I think this government is showing that we are investing in the East and we see the value and power in the East with the energy industry, high-tech and that triangle around East Anglia and this is a really exciting time for the region.'

And he reached out to young people in East Anglia, pleading with them not to be tempted by Labour and Jeremy Corbyn and instead back the Conservatives' message that capitalism is the way forward.

'What we are doing is making sure young people get a really good education. And phenomenal opportunities for jobs – that comes from the policies we have in place that attract really exciting companies to this country but also it is the entrepreneurs, the free market, capitalism that drives innovation.

'I think people are seeing that and young people are joining the Conservatives, we have a record number of young people at conference.

'Roughly 25pc of the people here at conference are under 25. That is a good start but we have more to do.'

But he faced an embarrassing high-tech blunder as conference opened with news that the party had breached data rules by accidentally making attendees' personal details available on an app. The Tories could face a big fine because of the breach.

He said: 'There was a technical issue with the app that was fixed within about half an hour of us being made aware.

'We have apologised and the company involved has apologised. But ultimately it is a data breach and we take these things very seriously.

'The app is now fully functional and secure.'

Meanwhile the Conservatives were locked in an internal battle over the future of the Brexit negotiations with former foreign secretary Boris Johnson describing Theresa May's Chequers proposals as 'deranged' and 'preposterous'.

But the prime minister hit back telling The Andrew Marr Show: 'I believe that the plan that we have put forward is a plan that is in the national interest.'

And even though thousands of protesters gathered in Birmingham to demand a second Brexit referendum it appeared their pleas were falling on deaf ears.

During his speech foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt revealed US diplomat Dr Henry Kissinger had told him he refused to back the UK remaining in the EU because 'the world needed an independent British voice'.

Today at conference the chancellor will address delegates and set out why business will be at the heart of Tory plans to boost the economy.

He will say: 'Ten years on from the financial crisis, Conservative leadership has delivered Britain a stronger, more resilient economy.

'We have delivered 22 consecutive quarters of economic growth since 2010, creating over three million more jobs and taking unemployment to a 43-year low.

'Too many people have experienced years of slow wage growth, felt less secure in their jobs and seen the housing market spiral beyond their reach. And as they look around them, they feel a growing concern that they are falling behind.

'So the challenge is to ensure that 21st Century capitalism delivers for them; to convince them that our vision of Britain's future can meet their aspirations and that our plan, unlike Labour's, will actually deliver a better tomorrow for them and their families.'

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