East Anglian Tory MPs hit out at protesters and claim Labour is the ‘nasty party’

A day of protests overshadowed the opening of Tory conference in Manchester.

A day of protests overshadowed the opening of Tory conference in Manchester. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

East Anglia's Conservative MPs have united to condemn the 'threats of violence' and 'aggression' which greeted the party as its annual conference kicked off in Manchester.

On Saturday a banner was placed across Salford Bridge declaring 'Hang the Tories'. Two effigies wearing suits were also hanging from the bridge.

MPs and Conservative staff have also reported being targeted when arriving on trains from London.

Yesterday protesters from the People's Army staged a noisy demonstration that included smoke bombs being throw amid high security in and around the conference centre.

Norwich North MP Chloe Smith blamed Labour supporters for the welcome her party had received in Manchester. She said: 'Violent protest because you lose an election is nasty, hypocritical and pathetic.

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'If this is the face today of Jeremy Corbyn's left, it's ugly. The Conservatives are proud to have been asked to govern and we are working hard for everyone, not just those who shout, spit and swear.'

And Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey agreed saying 'it seems Labour is the nasty party now'.

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'Peaceful protest plays an important part in our democracy,' she said. 'Aggression and incitement to violence has no place and removes any credibility.

'It's not behaviour I directly associate with most Labour MPs I know but a reminder that loose words and lazy allegations can have worrying consequences.'

Dr Dan Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich said the aggression seen at conference was typical during the general election.

'Some Conservative MPs, including those in Suffolk, saw this kind of unacceptable and frightening intimidation from hard-left activists during the recent general election campaign,' he said.

'While people may disagree about politics, threats of violence and murder have no place in British democracy, and it is important that the police take action against extremists who are inciting violence and civil disorder.

'Very happily it appears the anti-Brexit march was conducted in the right spirit and was peaceful.'

Labour's mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham quickly distanced the party from the banner saying: 'This is just wrong. We will always protect the right to protest but never to threaten, abuse or incite violence. It should come down.'

The angry scenes outside the conference centre were perhaps mirrored in the hotel room of the prime minister as Theresa May was forced again to insist her cabinet was 'united' behind her despite more fierce feuding over Brexit.

Conference has already seen an incendiary intervention by foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who laid down a raft of red lines for EU withdrawal including an insistence that a transition phase must not last 'a second more' than two years.

But the prime minister dodged the question of whether Mr Johnson was 'unsackable' instead insisting Mr Johnson was 'absolutely behind' the plan for Brexit.

And, in a growing sign of the unease within the cabinet at Mr Johnson's outspoken interventions, Damian Green, the first secretary of state, called on ministers to make their policy pitches in private.

'It is extremely sensible when you are in government to express those views in private rather than public,' he said.

The stand out speech of the day was by Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson who attacked the 'Tory psychodrama' surrounding speculation over the party leadership after being tipped for the role herself.

She said she had no plans to move to London and was 'not standing' for the role.

Ms Davidson also compared Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's popularity to the situation SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon previously enjoyed before electoral setbacks in Scotland and at Westminster.

She said: 'Commentators, who should know better, declaring Jeremy Corbyn as a shoo-in to Number 10, just because Glastonbury chanted his name to the White Stripes. Folks, he hasn't even won a raffle.'

In his speech to conference Chancellor Philip Hammond is set to announce more cash to back the so-called Northern powerhouse which looks to boost the economy in the North of England and the Midlands.

Gauke: I want to be chancellor

Former Ipswich schoolboy David Gauke told a fringe event at Conservative Party conference he would like to be chancellor.

The work and pensions secretary, who attended Northgate High School, revealed his ambition during a fringe event hosted by HuffPost UK.

'Maybe one day actually to be honest, maybe one day I would like to do that. I work very closely with Philip [Hammond], I think he is an excellent chancellor and just what we want. Years down the line when the family is a bit older then maybe one day I would like to do that.'

Asked whether he could be PM he answered: 'I am really not sure I would ever want to do it. There are huge qualities and attributes that you need to be prime minister. I think I am probably missing several of them. But one of them is a really strong desire to do the job.'

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