Tory party conference to get ‘biggest ever’ armed security detail, Manchester police tell RT
Tens of thousands of protesters are expected to fill the streets of Manchester this weekend, as the Conservative Party holds its annual conference in the city. Security is tight in the city targeted by an Islamist suicide bomber in May this year.
The venue will be surrounded by armed police, executing what is said to be the biggest security operation ever laid on for a party conference, as Theresa May and top ministers address delegates and supporters.
Police said the increased presence, including armed officers on patrol, will allow them to respond quickly to a situation on the ground, amid Britain’s heightened terrorism threat.
Greater Manchester Police (GMP) confirmed that there will be more armed officers at the conference this year than ever before.
While armed units are usually out of sight, they will be visible this year for “public reassurance” and so that they can be “there to respond” if they are needed, GMP told RT.
The force said there is no specific threat being considered.
Further units are being brought in to police the crowds of campaigners who will be holding demonstrations against Brexit and Tory austerity.
The protesters will surround the Midland Hotel and Manchester Central, where Theresa May and her party will attempt to convince members they are united ahead of the historical break from Brussels.
The conference is being held just weeks after the cabinet appeared to be in disarray, with infighting dividing the country’s top ministers.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson seemed to be working on his own vision for Brexit, clearly at odds with Chancellor Philip Hammond and Environment Minister Michael Gove.
Brexit secretary David Davis failed to get Brexit back on track after EU ministers’ refusal to talk until Britain agreed to pay looked set to derail any deal.
The conference is taking place between Sunday and Wednesday.
Current estimates suggest as many as 75,000 protesters could descend on the conference, leading to a “significant security operation.”
Anti-Brexit protest speakers include Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable, former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and former Labour adviser Alastair Campbell. Activists are expected to gather in nearby Platt Fields Park from Sunday.
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has supported the march.
“Manchester is a ‘Remain’ city,” he told The Mancunion (the name is a play on the demonym Mancunian, the short form Manc and the word union).
“A warm and welcoming city, with a spirit like no other. Those who feel passionately that their future is in the hands of others who do not have their best interests at heart, who feel this decision will harm our country for generations to come should take this opportunity to demonstrate their strength of feeling against this hard Brexit,” Blair told the student newspaper.