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PM speech 'to reassert authority' amid fears of another coughing fit

By Jon Craig, chief political correspondent
Theresa May will round off the Tory conference with an attempt to raise party morale and convince activists that the Conservatives are about more than Brexit.
Amid reports that cabinet ministers are urging her to set a date for her departure, she will claim Britain's future after leaving the European Union is full of promise.She'll announce that fuel duty will be frozen for the ninth year in a row, in a move she claims demonstrates to families that the government is on their side.And after a day in which Boris Johnson stole the show at the conference with his "chuck Chequers" onslaught, the Prime Minister will attempt to re-assert her authority.

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Speaking before her speech, she told Sky News: "We do have the big ideas. We have to make the arguments for free markets, for open economies, and we have to recognise in doing that, that for some people as I said on the steps of Downing Street back when I first became prime minister, they do feel that things haven't been working for everyone in the way that they should."That's why alongside the discussions about Brexit, actually what this conference has been focusing on is the changes we're making to people in terms of things like putting extra money into social care, to ensure we're dealing with the winter pressures, to the commitment we've already made for more money for the National Health Service, the changes we're making in the apprenticeship levy, to ensure that we get those good apprenticeships available for our young people.
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Sky's Faisal Islam's interview with PM Theresa May ahead of her conference speech
"These are all important ways in which we're dealing day to day with the issues that make a real difference to people's lives."In an upbeat passage in her speech, she will say: "I passionately believe that our best days lie ahead of us and that our future is full of promise."Don't let anyone tell you we don't have what it takes: we have everything we need to succeed."But with rumours circulating in Birmingham that the prime minister has a tickly cough, she will be hoping there is no repeat of the mishaps she suffered during her conference speech last year.

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Coughing fit, P45 prank and falling letters mar conference speech
Theresa May's keynote speech was marred by a bad throat and an interruption by a comedian

First, she was presented with a spoof P45 by a comedian sitting in the front row. Then she suffered a coughing fit she could not shake off. And then letters started to fall off the set behind her."Look, unpredictable things happen," Tory deputy chairman James Cleverly told Sky News."What we saw last year was two things: on the stage itself it was like a trial by ordeal and she fought through and she kept on fighting and she got to the end of the speech and the auditorium erupted."Then the thing we saw immediately afterwards was that tweet about the Strepsils and the speech and we laughed along with her and she showed that humorous side of her."That's what the party really respects, I think. That's what, that's one of her great strengths."She's got the fortitude, she's also got a little bit of humour. Sometimes it comes out, sometimes she hides it away, but she is a really strong woman, a really strong prime minister and I really hope that comes across in the speech."
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