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Conservative conference 2017: Theresa May to announce council house building programme - Politics live

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10/04/2017 | 10:49am CET

block-time published-time 10.25am BST

Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, has said he cannot defend what Boris Johnson said about Sirte, the BBC’s Norman Smith reports.

enltrJeremy Hunt condemns Boris Johnson Sirte 'dead bodies' comments as "very unfortunate..I don't want to defend that." @BBCLondonNews

— norman smith (@BBCNormanS) October 4, 2017

block-time published-time 10.22am BST

On the Today programme this morning Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said she hoped there would be “some serious numbers” in Theresa May’s announcement on council homes. She said:

We do need to see some serious numbers being talked about today, but if we do, this could be an absolute watershed because this is what we desperately need...

We’ve got about 1.2m people on the waiting list currently for social housing. Honestly, from what we see at Shelter every day it’s not possible to exaggerate the level of misery that that represents, and we have people pushed into the private rented sector which is completely unaffordable due to a combination of social security cuts on the one hand, low wages, and also then the huge cost anyway within the property market.

Andrew Whitaker, planning director of the Home Builders Federation, told the programme that land needed to be made available alongside additional council powers. He said:

Of course what we must see is additional land coming forward. We can’t just substitute tenure, so we can’t just use the land that the private sector would have used to develop housing.

Don’t forget, the private sector already cross subsidises affordable housing, but we must have more land and councils must be given the tools in order to deliver their own housing.

block-time published-time 9.38am BST

The Sun’s Steve Hawkes says Centrica shares are down this morning.

enltrShares in British Gas owner Centrica are down 2.25% already ahead of PM speech. There is an energy announcement coming

— steve hawkes (@steve_hawkes) October 4, 2017

As the Guardian reported last week, more than 70 Conservative MPs have signed a cross-party letter urging Theresa May to impose a price cap on energy bills. That is a number she cannot afford to ignore, and so it seems reasonable to assume she will have something to say on this subject this morning.

block-time published-time 9.20am BST

Here are the extracts from Theresa May’s speech released by Number 10 in advance. She will say:

So let us do our duty by Britain. 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.

Not worrying about our job security, but theirs. Not addressing our concerns, but the issues, the problems, the challenges, that concern them. 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.

That is what I am in politics for. To make a difference. To change things for the better. To hand on to the next generation a country that is stronger, fairer and more prosperous.

None of this will be easy. There will be obstacles and barriers along the way.

But 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.

And it is when tested the most that we reach deep within ourselves and find that our capacity to rise to the challenge before us may well be limitless.

That is the story of our party. That is the story of our country. And that is the resolve and determination we need as we turn to face the future today. So let us go forward together. Let us fulfil our duty to Britain.

Damian McBride, who was Gordon Brown’s communications chief and who now works for the shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, has taken to Twitter to point out that the speechwriter has pilfered a phrase from the West Wing.

enltrLet's see if The Times splash this eh, @Dannythefink - via @Raphael_Hogarth : pic.twitter.com/vHYzXk9pRn

Damian McBride (@DPMcBride) October 3, 2017

McBride has directed this at the Times because he is clearly still angry about a Times story 10 years ago accusing Brown of lifting phrases from Bill Clinton and Al Gore in his Labour conference speech in 2007.

block-time published-time 9.03am BST

Here is video of Boris Johnson making his “dead bodies” remark.

enltrLISTEN: @BorisJohnson has suggested parts of Libya could be the next Dubai “if they clear the dead bodies away” at a #CPC17 fringe event. pic.twitter.com/zRtFyK8Z6g

— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) October 3, 2017

And here he is leaving his hotel this morning for a run with Tony Gallagher, editor of the Sun.

Boris Johnson (right) leaving the conference hotel for a run this morning with Tony Gallagher, editor of the Sun.
Photograph: James Gourley/REX/Shutterstock

block-time published-time 8.40am BST

Theresa May will wrap up the Conservative conference with her keynote speech and, after three days of relatively lacklustre policy announcements, she has a potentially big promise - a major council house building programme.

HuffPost UK and the Sun had the story last night and Damian Green, the first secretary of state, has confirmed it in interviews this morning. He told the Today programme a few minutes ago that May would unveil measures in her speech to “make it easier for councils to build new houses for rent”. But we have not had any detail yet of what is being proposed, so at this point it is hard to assess how transformative this will be.

But, as is customary when May is about to give a speech, she has found herself overshadowed by Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary. This, from Sky’s Beth Rigby, sums it up well.

enltrThe Florence speech, #CPC17 kick off & May's big conference speech. Each of her big moments have been totally overshadowed by Boris Johnson

Beth Rigby (@BethRigby) October 4, 2017

After his speech yesterday there was a brief two hours when people stopped calling for Johnson’s resignation. But, after he said a war-torn Libyan city only has to “clear the dead bodies away” to become a world-class tourist and business destination, the calls for him to go resumed.

Two Conservative MPs took to Twitter last night to say he should go.

enltr100% unacceptable from anyone, let alone foreign sec. Boris must be sacked for this. He does not represent my party. https://t.co/v2RHlbjlnB

Heidi Allen (@heidiallen75) October 3, 2017

enltr. @[email protected]@BBCWorld as I said yesterday #borisjohnson is embarrassing & PM should sack him

Anna Soubry MP (@Anna_Soubry) October 3, 2017

And the Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston posted this.

enltrDemeaning jokes about real people murdered in Libya would be crass even from a stand up; appalled to hear this from our Foreign Secretary

Sarah Wollaston (@sarahwollaston) October 3, 2017

This morning, on the Today programme, Wollaston went a bit further and said Johnson should “consider his position”.

In response, Green has said that Johnson’s language was not acceptable. He told the BBC:

Let me be clear: it was not an acceptable use of... it was not a sensitive use of language... As I say, we all need to be sensitive in our use of language, particularly in situations like that.

Green did not call for Johnson to apologise, but on the Today programme Laura Kuenssberg, the BBC’s political editor, was speculating that we would get an apology before May starts her speech.

But last night Johnson did not seem inclined to back down. He posted these messages on Twitter.

enltrShame people with no knowledge or understanding of Libya want to play politics with the appallingly dangerous reality in Sirte

Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) October 3, 2017

enltrThe reality there is that the clearing of corpses of Daesh fighters has been made much more difficult by IEDs and booby traps

Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) October 3, 2017

enltrThat's why Britain is playing a key role in reconstruction and why I have visited Libya twice this year in support

Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) October 3, 2017

And, according Rigby and the BBC’s Norman Smith, Johnson does not seem very repentant this morning.

enltrJohnson just did tour of exhibition hall - press waiting on his way out; I was pulled away by his security detail as I asked him about Libya

Beth Rigby (@BethRigby) October 4, 2017

enltrGave Boris Johnson opportunity to respond to Serte "dead bodies" row and he declined to be interviewed #cpc17

— norman smith (@BBCNormanS) October 4, 2017

enltrMe too; though he did tell me off camera the furore was "ridiculous" and a result of people trying to "distort" what he says https://t.co/mFZ2DOogpA

Beth Rigby (@BethRigby) October 4, 2017

There is only one item on the agenda today. May is due to speak at about 11.20am. But before she speaks the conference will also hear from Gavin Williamson, the chief whip.

Before May speaks I will also write up a post on 10 things we’ve learnt from the Conservative conference.

You can read all today’s Guardian politics stories here.

If you want to follow me or contact me on Twitter, I’m on @AndrewSparrow.

I try to monitor the comments BTL but normally I find it impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer direct questions, although sometimes I miss them or don’t have time.

If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter.

Copyright © 2017 theguardian.com. All rights reserved., source Guardian Online

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