Priti Patel boosts leadership speculation at Conservative conference

Overseas Development secretary Priti Patel and Prime Minister Theresa May.

Overseas Development secretary Priti Patel and Prime Minister Theresa May. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

East Anglian MP Priti Patel did little to downplay speculation about her leadership ambitions during her appearance at the Conservative Party conference.

Stage staff placed a step behind the lectern in order to give a height boost to the International Development Secretary for her speech.

And the Witham MP opened by telling Tory members in Manchester: “Thank you for the step up.

“Some of our most successful leaders have of course been the smallest.”

The minister has been touted as a possible replacement for Theresa May, given her strong support for Brexit.

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Ms Patel sought to paint the UK as a “bold and confident” nation.

She said: “We’re unafraid to stand up for what we believe in. Influence is about knowing what you believe in, having the confidence to project British values internationally, looking outwards - not inwards, and utilising our unique history and our position as a force for good.”

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The Tory frontbencher referenced former prime minister Margaret Thatcher as she spoke about how under “my leadership” the spending of the Department for International Development is scrutinised.

She also directly attributed many decisions to herself, adding: “And I’m taking back control of our spending and our decision-making, making sure that we use British values to bring hope and optimism to millions across the world.”

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