Theresa May made a grovelling apology for the disastrous election today as she pleaded for the Cabinet to draw a line under a week of damaging squabbling.
Delivering a crucial keynote speech to Tory conference in Manchester, the Prime Minister admitted the campaign had been too ‘presidential’ and she had to take responsibility.
She also conceded that her ‘unemotional’ image as an ‘ice maiden’ had been damaging.
‘I am sorry,’ she added, vowing that the Tories would become the party of ‘compassion’ and a ‘voice for the voiceless’.
Mrs May is making a bold bid to turn the tables on Labour by unveiling a series of policies designed to show the Tories are on the side of hard-working families.
Theresa May delivered a grovelling apology for the disastrous election campaign at the start of her Tory conference speech today
The Prime Minister admitted the campaign had been too ‘presidential’ and she had to take responsibility
Theresa May arrived for her conference speech in Manchester today flanked by husband Philip
The conference in Manchester has been blighted by Boris Johnson’s leadership manoeuvring. The Foreign Secretary is pictured arriving at the venue today
They include an opt-out system for organ donation, and a major housebuilding spree. She is the first Conservative leader since Harold Macmillan to pledge a new generation of council houses.
Mrs May told the Tory faithful: ‘I know that people think I’m not very emotional. I’m not the kind of person who wears their heart on their sleeve.
‘And I don’t mind being called things like the Ice Maiden – though perhaps George Osborne took the analogy a little far.
‘But let me tell you something.
‘My grandmother was a domestic servant who worked as a lady’s maid blow stairs.
‘She worked hard and made sacrifices, because she believed in a better future for her family.
‘And that servant – that lady’s maid – among her grandchildren boasts three professors and a prime minister.’
Government-owned land is expected to be cleared for new social housing built by local authorities.
The Tory election manifesto promised the delivery of 1.5million new homes by 2022.
In her speech today, Mrs May told ministers it is time to end the civil war and start looking outwards at the needs of ordinary families.
Mrs May said the Conservatives should be ‘not worrying about our job security, but theirs’.
‘Not addressing our concerns, but the issues, the problems, the challenges, that concern them,’ she said.
‘Not focusing on our future, but on the future of their children and their grandchildren – doing everything we can to ensure their tomorrow will be better than our today.’
Invoking Winston Churchill, she insisted: ‘Let us go forward together. Let us fulfil our duty to Britain.’
Mrs May went on: ‘Let us shape up and give the country the government it needs.
‘For beyond this hall, beyond the gossip pages of the newspapers, and beyond the streets, corridors and meeting rooms of Westminster, life continues – the daily lives of ordinary working people go on. And they must be our focus today.’
Signalling defiance despite a welter of speculation about her future, Mrs May said: ‘It has never been my style to hide from a challenge, to shrink from a task, to retreat in the face of difficulty, to give up and turn away.’
Chancellor Philip Hammond was at the speech in Manchester today with wife Susan
Theresa May will today warn her squabbling Cabinet to stop fighting and ‘do our duty by Britain’
After a fraught week in Manchester, the Prime Minister will tell the Conservative conference it is time for the party to ‘shape up’ and focus on delivering for voters
The Cabinet was already wracked by divisions over its approach to Brexit, but has been thrown deeper into turmoil by Mr Johnson’s agitating.
Last month he published an unauthorised 4,000-word essay laying out his personal manifesto for Brexit. Then, on the eve of the conference, he used an interview to lay out his own ‘red lines’.
The Foreign Secretary received a rapturous reception from activists yesterday as he set out an upbeat vision of life outside the EU. But Mrs May and most of the Cabinet snubbed him by failing to attend the address and he has faced a furious backlash from MPs.
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon openly mocked him from the conference stage, while Brexit Secretary David Davis took a thinly-veiled swipe at him.
Awkwardly, Mr Johnson was seated next to Home Secretary Amber Rudd – one of his most vocal detractors – in the hall today.
Allies of Mrs May believe Mr Johnson’s actions were the result of a leadership bid that has backfired.
But friends of Mr Johnson insist his motives have been misunderstood. One ally said: ‘It’s not about disloyalty. He feels he will be judged on Brexit and he was worried that things might be going wrong, but it’s all fine now.’
The party has spent much of this week soul-searching about their failure to connect with younger voters.
Mrs May walked from the Midland hotel to deliver her second speech to Tory conference as party leader
Boris Johnson was cheered after a barnstorming speech in which he said it was ‘time to be bold’ and embrace the opportunities of Brexit
Mrs May has already announced plans to cap tuition fees and invest an extra £10billion in the Help to Buy housing scheme
Mrs May has already announced plans to cap tuition fees and invest an extra £10billion in the Help to Buy housing scheme.
Councils are expected to be given new freedoms to build their own homes, while also being forced to assess local need and set targets to construct more housing in their area.
One-time housing minister Harold Macmillan ordered his major private and council homebuilding programme in the 1950s.
But council house construction has been on the wane 1980s as governments thought people no longer wanted to live in them.
One senior Tory described the plans as a ‘revolution in housebuilding’ designed to win over the under-40s.
The Tories’ annual gathering has been overshadowed by Cabinet infighting sparked by Mr Johnson’s decision to go public with his concerns about the Government’s direction on Brexit.
The muted mood at conference this week contrasted sharply with Labour’s gathering, where the party’s hard left were jubilant about the prospects of Mr Corbyn becoming Prime Minister – despite the fact they lost the election.