What ADS Learnt at the 2021 Conservative Party Conference

This week the Conservative Party Conference returned for its first in-person conference since the successful 2019 General Election. The ADS Public Affairs Team were in Manchester for the gathering of Ministers, MP, party members and industry colleagues. This Conference provided an opportunity to have intimate and candid discussions with a high density of policy makers, interesting fringe events and a chance to all meet face to face again. 

ADS hosted several events at Conservative Conference, like we did last month at the Labour Party Conference. ADS’ first event was a roundtable lunch with the Minister for Defence Procurement, Jeremy Quin MP. The meeting brought the Minister and industry colleagues together for a relaxed lunch with broad agenda ranging from DSIS implementation, AUKUS and the changing culture within the MOD.  

Our second event was a drinks reception, with the Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace delivering a speech, before spending some time talking with industry directly. He was accompanied by a cohort of Ministers, MPs and staff who mingled with industry colleagues at the event. The evening saw a drinks reception sponsored by the major trade associations including ADS across industry which were attended by Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng and a speech from the Chancellor Rishi Sunak. 

Conservative Conference Highlights

Away from the fringe events and receptions, see below a summary of the key announcements from Ministers on the conference stage: 

The Prime Minister announced:  

  • The Government will welcome 20,000 Afghans, including translators. 
  • Championed the 2050 Net Zero ambition by highlighting that it will take “massive and innovative private sector investment” as well as Government action.  
  • Emphasised the Government will use “Brexit freedoms to do things differently”, highlighting the Nationality and Borders Bill and new Freeports.  
  • Reaffirmed the UK’s ambition of becoming a “science superpower” and citing data management, AI and cyber. 
  • Praised the AUKUS deal which he described as a “recognition of the reality that the world is tilting on its economic axis”.   
  • Added the UK’s trade and relations in the Indo-Pacific region are becoming “more vital than ever before” hence why the Government sent the Carrier Strike Group to the Far East, “performing manoeuvres with forty friendly countries”.  

The Chancellor announced the Government’s plan to give people the means and opportunities to upskill and access higher wages with: 

  • £500 million to renew job support programmes 
  • Greater support for the tech and scientific innovation 
  • The Kickstart Scheme and apprenticeship incentives extended to March 2022  
  • 2,000 new elite AI scholarships for disadvantaged kids  
  • Doubling the number of Turing AI fellowships. 

The Home secretary announced: 

  • An independent inquiry into the the “systematic failures” that allowed Wayne Couzens, murderer of Sarah Everard, to continue as a police officer.  
  • That changes will be made to the appeal process for asylum seekers.  
  • A £15 million expansion in testing suspects for drugs on arrest. 
  • Targeting people smugglers and will raise the maximum sentence from 14 years to a life sentence. 

If you have any questions about the Conservative Party Conference activity, please get in touch with Sam Sears.