It has been fascinating to observe the whole leadership contest on and off the stage.This is my minute-to-minute hustings diary.

9:00 A.M. It’s a rainy Saturday morning in Leicestershire. I am walking to the car with my husband, Andrew, under a big Westminster blue umbrella. We are heading to Nottingham for the Conservative party leadership hustings, where Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt will address the members from the stage. In what feels like no time at all, but what has in fact been a long process, we have got down to the final two contenders competing for the position of leader of the Conservative Party and the next Prime Minister. It has been fascinating to observe the whole leadership contest on and off the stage

A little cool blue ‘Back Boris‘ badge is attached to my purse. Who will be the next Prime Minister?, I ask myself. My funny video ‘Cooking with Friends‘ is coming true.

9.30 A.M. We are at the entrance of the Nottingham Belfry hotel which is crowded with volunteers and supporters of both candidates. They are holding signs, and greeting us with leaflets. Members are arriving and the hotel lobby is getting very busy. I am heading for the long queue for coffee.

As Andrew is giving media interviews outside, two Land Rovers approach the entrance. Photographers and journalists swarm to get the best positions. Dressed in a dark suit, Boris Johnson steps out of the car making a grand entrance. People cheer him loudly, there is a sudden change of atmosphere, a frisson in the air. Jeremy Hunt is not here yet.

Nevena Bridgen

10:00 A.M. The room for the event is crammed with the press and the members of the Conservative party. Both candidates have only 7 minutes to present their speeches and then it’s a 40 minute Q & A session for each contender. It is the party members who will ultimately vote to decide who will be the next Prime Minister.

11:15 A.M Boris gets to speak first. He is animated, giving us a great performance, a progerssive agenda filled with policy, plans, vision, positivity and enthusiasm. The famous Boris charm pours out and the people approve. One thing is certain: Boris knows how to work the crowd.

His big policy, among others, is that investing in education, especially in young girls, is crucial for the future of the UK and that it can deliver a positive change in society at large. He sees the Conservative party as a modern, socially inclusive progressive party. What is for sure this is a big and important differentiation from the one-issue Brexit Party of Nigel Farage. Boris is even open to giving amnesty to illegal immigrants who have not broken any laws or committed any crimes. The future PM, if elected, is promising a progressive Conservative agenda through and through.

Boris Johnson at the leadership hustings

But his big messages are that if he is elected leader he will Leave the EU on the 31st October with or without a deal, “unite the party and the country” and beat Jeremy Corbyn at the next election.

Boris finalizes his speech on a high to raging applause breaking  out from the attendees. Now it’s time for Jeremy Hunt to use his 7 minutes. 

12:15 A.M: The current foreign secretary takes the stage. He is trying to ignore the Boris hype which still lingers in the room. It is really hard to come out second on the stage, after your competitor exited on such a high note, but Jeremy is doing well.

Jeremy Hunt at the leadership hustings

Boris’ challenger starts off his speech by asking how many people set up their own business? The hands go up including mine. What a great way to connect to people. He’s making a link to a large proportion of the audience saying how he once was a businessman. Hunt continues to surprise with well prepared and detailed answers on various policy issues. He is a good quality candidate and the party membership will have a very hard task to decide between them who will be the next Prime Minister. We certainly saw two very different performances today, two very different personalities and two very different styles of political leadership.

13:30 P.M We are in the car, on the way to our next stop, Nottingham University where the young conservative conference is taking place. Andrew is scheduled to give a speech later in the afternoon. 

Boris Johnson talking to the young memebers

As we got in, Boris was there already, talking to the youngest members of the Conservative party. Boris has a  great ability to connect to different generations. The coolest Prime Minister? I am sure he would win that title. 

14:30 P.M We are again in the car and pulling over in front of a private residence. We are arriving just in time for a private party in honour of Boris Johnson. A select group of donors, supporters and the Back Boris team are chatting in the lovely garden in a small Nottinghamshire village. It’s no longer raining and we are enjoying the sunshine. Everyone wants to know, are we leaving on the 31st of October for real? Rather spontaneously, Boris decided to address all the guests. He is taking a moment to thank all his colleagues who came to give him support and once again reinforces his vision for Britain. In one moment he says ”I want to thank Andrew Bridgen, where are you?” It’s friendly and everyone is in a good mood. 

15:30 P.M  We are again in the car driving back to the University for Andrew’s speech where we will meet some of the new generation of British conservatives 

16:00 P.M I am meeting girls who are members of the young women Conservatives, they and many other young passionate people have brilliant questions for Andrew Bridgen, Sir Patrick McLoughlin, Mims Davies and Ben Bradley ( all members of Parliament). Nigel Huddleston MP is hosting the event. 

 17:30 P.M It is time for questions from the young conservative activists. These are the potential  councillors and MPs of the future. I am amazed at their sharp, brilliant questions and the level of  world awareness displayed by this young generation. I wonder if a future PM is in the audience today?

Andrew Bridgen talking to a group of students

Andrew goes off for a little workshop session with a selected group of students, with one task, to come up with three policies for the next  PM. Learning from and meeting MPs directly is a huge incentive for pursuing a dream to become an MP one day.

The policy areas most of the interest to his group are: Brexit, housing, and the north, south divide.

Nevena Bridgen with Blake-Perun at their home

19:00 P.M After a day filled with events we are heading home and I can not wait to see my little one who was left in the care of my mom. The image of his face when I arrived home was an absolute delight to behold, my Blake-Perun, my little Mr.Wonderful. Perhaps he might be PM one day?

Quelle journée!

Nevena Bridgen
Nevena Bridgen

Founder

Nevena Bridgen is the Founder of The Wives of Westminster. She is an opera singer and a wife of MP Andrew Bridgen.

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