Conservative Party Conference 2021

Sunday 3rd October, 16.30 – 17.30

The Great Rebalancing:


How do we Shift Post-18 Education Back Towards a More Vocational Focus?

Improving the skills and prospects of those who do not go to university is a key plank of the Government’s levelling up strategy. This involves an ambitious programme of vocational education and training from T levels to FE funding, the lifetime skills guarantee, and dealing with the “missing middle” of technical skills.


Speakers Include: 
  • Sir Philip Augar, Author and former Chair, Review of Post-18 Education and Funding

  • Sharon Davies, CEO, Young Enterprise (invited

  • Angela Joyce, Chief Executive Officer, WCG

  • Subrahmaniam Krishnan-Harihara, Head of Research and Analytics team, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce

  • Rt Hon Nadhim Zahawi MP, Secretary of State for Education

  • David Goodhart, Author and Head of Demography Unit, Policy Exchange (Chair)

Monday 4th October 2021, 12:00 – 13:00

Towards a new UK-EU relationship:

Making the most of post-Brexit opportunities

With Brexit done, UK and EU trade and regulatory policy is likely to diverge. Equally, a more Global Britain will still need to engage with Europe. What are the political and economic opportunities to be seized, and the risks to be mitigated? Meanwhile, how can the immediate differences over the Northern Ireland Protocol be resolved?

Speakers Include: 
  • Stephen Booth, Head of the Britain in the World Project, Policy Exchange (Chair)
  • Rt Hon Arlene Foster, Former First Minister of Northern Ireland
  • Rt Hon Lord Frost, Minister of State for EU Relations
  • Dr Gerard Lyons, Senior Fellow, Policy Exchange
  • Martin McTague, Policy & Advocacy Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses
Monday 4th October 2021, 13.45 – 14.45

What is the Conservative Party Plan for Bringing Down NHS Waiting Times?

Waiting times for planned care have reached 5.6 million – an unprecedented level. Polling suggests it will be the defining NHS issue for the public leading to the next general election. And the backlog brings a very real human cost, as millions endure long and uncertain waits. So, what can be done?

In this panel discussion we’ll explore questions including:

  • Is the right level of resource and capacity in place to bust the elective backlog? What new types of innovations will be required? Can we ‘do things differently’?
  • How can we better support and empower those waiting for treatment? And how can public confidence be maintained in an era of declining NHS performance?
  • What are the electoral consequences of not getting the waiting list under control?

Sponsored by Versus Arthritis and Royal College of Surgeons of England

Speakers Include: 
  • Robert Ede, Head of Health and Social Care, Policy Exchange (Chair)
  • Paul Bristow MP, Member, Health and Social Care Select Committee
  • James Forsyth, Political Editor, the Spectator
  • Stephen Hammond MP, Former Minister of State for Health (2018/19)
  • Professor Neil Mortensen, President, Royal College of Surgeons of England
  • Roz Walsh, Person living with arthritis, Versus Arthritis
Monday 4th October 2021, 15:00 – 16:00

Book launch of ‘Broken Heartlands’, Rt Hon Michael Gove MP in-conversation with Sebastian Payne

Historically, the red wall formed the backbone of Labour’s vote in the Midlands and the North of England but, during the 2019 general election, it dramatically turned Conservative for the first time in living memory, redrawing the electoral map in the process. ‘Broken Heartlands’ explores this fundamental upheaval of the British political landscape.



Speakers Include: 
  • Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities
  • Sebastian Payne, Whitehall Editor, Financial Times
Monday 4th October 2021, 16:30 – 17:30

Government Reimagined: What Needs to be Done to Reform Government for the 21st Century?

The success of every policy initiative depends upon the capacity and capabilities of government itself. The aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic provides both the opportunity and the imperative to re-evaluate the processes, organisational design, structure and culture of government. This panel will discuss how to approach reform of government.

Sponsored by Palantir


Speakers Include:
  • Benjamin Barnard, Head of Technology Policy, Policy Exchange (Chair)
  • Dame Patricia Hodgson, Deputy Chair, Policy Exchange
  • Rt Hon Lord Maude of Horsham, former Minister of State for Trade and Investment
  • Rt Hon Baroness Morgan of Cotes, former Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
  • Louis Mosley, Head, Palantir UK 
Monday 4th October 2021, 18:00 – 19:00

In conversation with new Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid and Fraser Nelson

Charting a path out of a global pandemic, tackling waiting lists and delivering major reforms to social care are just three of the items in the new Secretary of State’s in-tray. Delivering improvements to the health and social care systems will be vital over the next few years so what is his vision for the years ahead? Policy Exchange is pleased to host Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP in conversation with the Spectator’s Fraser Nelson.


Speakers Include: 
  • Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
  • Fraser Nelson, Editor, The Spectator (Chair)
Tuesday 5th October 2021, 09:00 – 10:00

Following the Science: 

What Should the UK Learn from the COVID-19 Pandemic When it Comes to the Role of Science in Public Health?

Confronting Covid-19 has put science front and centre of public policy making. From developing treatments in real time, to the rapid vaccine rollout, science is leading the way. But we face many more public health challenges – from ageing to obesity. What lessons from the crisis should we learn for UK science and how it informs public health?

Sponsored by The Physiological Society


Speakers Include: 
  • Robert Ede, Head of Health and Social Care, Policy Exchange (Chair)
  • Rt Hon George Freeman MP,  Minister for Science, Research and Innovation
  • Richard Maughan, Senior Director, UK Policy and Public Affairs, Pfizer
  • Susan Mitchell, Head of Policy – Prevention, Detection and Diagnostics Alzheimer’s Research UK
  • Professor Mike Tipton, Incoming Trustee, the Physiological Society’
Tuesday 5th October 2021, 10:30 – 11:30

Rebalancing the UK:

Levelling Up the Regions

The Government has promised to “level up opportunities across all parts of the United Kingdom” and levelling up has become the biggest idea of post-Brexit politics. But reversing the country’s deep regional inequalities is a policy ambition with multiple moving parts that has proved too much for governments of the past 40 years. This key event of the conference season, which brings together the minister for levelling up and the mayor identified with the success story on the Tees, will consider some of those moving parts—infrastructure/business incentives, training/education/graduate retention, devolving power/renewed pride in place. It will consider whether levelling up requires a rethink of Britain’s current growth strategy, based around London, professional and financial services and inward investment, and its approach to social mobility currently focused on  higher education. The event will also consider the political tensions within levelling up, how the pandemic has impacted the strategy and how it should be measured to know whether any progress has been made towards the Government’s ambitious goals.

Sponsored by AECOM


Speakers Include: 
  • David Goodhart, Author and Head of Demography Unit, Policy Exchange (Chair)
  • Ben Houchen, Mayor of the Tees Valley
  • Andrew Jones, Cities Programme Leader, AECOM
  • Neil O’Brien MP OBE, Minister for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities
  • Paul Ormerod, Economist and Chairman of the Rochdale Development Agency
  • Juliet Samuel, Columnist, The Telegraph
Tuesday 5th October 2021, 12:00 – 13:00

The UK’s Integrated Review in the Wake of Afghanistan

With two decades of conflict in Afghanistan drawn to a close, state on state competition represents the core geopolitical challenge to the international order. This assumption informed the Integrated Review and its approach to the role of partnerships and alliances to enhance British foreign policy and military action. How will trans-Atlantic relations evolve and is AUKUS a template for the type of multilateralism needed to meet today’s challenges?

Sponsored by Palantir

Speakers Include: 
  • Dean Godson, Director, Policy Exchange (Chair)
  • Hon Alexander Downer, Former Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs
  • Hon Stephen J. Harper, 22nd Prime Minister of Canada
  • Alicia Kearns MP, Member, Foreign Affairs Select Committee
  • Air Marshal Edward Stringer, Director General, Joint Force Deployment
  • Matt Turpin, Visiting Fellow, Hoover Institution
  • Rt Hon Ben Wallace MP, Secretary of State for Defence
Tuesday 5th October 2021, 13.30 – 14.30

Levelling Up the Digital Economy:

How Can we Ensure a Digital-led Recovery Post-COVID

With the UK tech start-up and scale-up ecosystem valued at $585bn, policy makers have a tremendous opportunity to harness the power of disruptive and emerging technology to transform the UK’s productive potential. This panel will discuss how Britain can maximise technology’s positive contribution for individuals, businesses and government.

Sponsored by Google


Speakers Include: 
  • Benjamin Barnard, Head of Technology Policy, Policy Exchange (Chair)
  • Chris Brannigan, Senior Fellow, Policy Exchange
  • Katie O’Donovan, Public Policy Manager, Google UK
  • Chris Philp MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital Economy
  • James Wise, Partner, Balderton Capital
Tuesday 5th October 2021, 15.00 – 16.00

The Road to Net Zero:

Decarbonising Road Transport

Transport is the number one contributor to UK emissions. The Government has recently published its Transport Decarbonisation Plan, which included a commitment to phase out the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030. What more does the Government need to do to deliver the phase out and to ensure that electric vehicles are practical for drivers?

Sponsored by Climate Group

Speakers Include: 
  • Ed Birkett, Senior Research Fellow, Energy and Environment, Policy Exchange (Chair)
  • David Gold, Director of External Affairs & Policy, Royal Mail
  • Trudy Harrison MP, Minister for the Future of Transport and Decarbonisation
  • Mary D. Nichols, former Chair of the California Air Resources Board
Tuesday 5th October 2021, 16.30 – 17.30

Building Back Better:

How to Deliver High Quality Homes and Extend the Dream of Homeownership

The Government has a target of 300,000 homes to build each year, and policy commitments on quality. While building more, the housing industry will have to maintain and improve construction quality.  The panel will discuss how to build more, higher quality homes which meet both Government and public expectations.

Sponsored by NHBC



Speakers Include: 
  • Ike Ijeh, Senior Fellow, Housing & Urban Space, Policy Exchange (Chair)
  • Patrick Melia, Chief Executive of Sunderland City Council
  • Christopher Pincher MP, Minister of State at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
  • Lewis Sidnick, Director of Corporate & External Affairs, NHBC
  • Rosie Toogood, CEO, Legal & General Modular Homes
Tuesday 5th October 2021, 18.00 – 19.00

What Impact Will the Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan Have on Extremism in the UK?

This panel will assess whether the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan gives momentum to Islamist organisations and activists in the UK? Secondly, how do we prevent the type of engagement between British extremists and the Taliban, and Britons and foreign fighters the Taliban hosts, which characterised the period 1996 – 2001.


Speakers Include: 
  • Dr Paul Stott, Head of Security and Extremism, Policy Exchange (Chair)
  • Lord Carlile of Berriew QC CBE, former Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation
  • Nusrat Ghani MP, Member of Parliament for Wealden
  • Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP, Minister for Security and Borders
  • Fiyaz Mughal CMgr OBE FCMI, Founder and Director, Faith Matters

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