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Theresa May hailed for her 'sense of duty' after comedian interrupts speech

 Comedian Simon Brodkin, also known as Lee Nelson confronts Prime Minister Theresa May during her keynote speech at the Conservative Party Conference at the Manchester Central Convention Complex in Manchester.  Peter Byrne/PA Wire
Richard Wheeler and Jon Vale, Press Association Political Staff

Cabinet ministers rallied round Theresa May following her dramatic speech to the Conservative Party conference.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he believed Mrs May's speech showed a "great sense of duty", adding she "did really well" to cope with a persistent cough and a prankster waving a P45 unemployment notice in her face. 

Letters also fell off a sign behind the Prime Minster during the speech. The sign read: Building a country that works for everyone. The F and the E fell off. 

Environment Secretary Michael Gove added: "I thought it was a fantastic speech from a Prime Minister at the top of her game."

Mrs May's speech was interrupted by comedian Lee Nelson, who handed her a P45 unemployment slip in what appeared to be a publicity stunt, before being bundled away by security.

She was also hindered by a persistent cough which at several points left her struggling to speak and forced her to pause for a drink of water.

A Downing Street source said: "Greater Manchester Police have arrested a man for breach of the peace. We expect that there will be a thorough investigation into what happened."

The source declined to discuss the Prime Minister's security arrangements.

Prankster held over PM's P45 stunt had legitimate accreditation, say police

Asked how Mrs May had reacted to being approached on stage during her speech, the source said that everyone had seen her joke about it shortly afterwards.

Theresa May pledged to "dedicate" her premiership to fixing Britain's housing crisis as she announced an extra £2 billion for affordable housing.

In a markedly more personal speech than usual, the Prime Minister told activists that despite never being "blessed" with children, she believed life should be better for the next generation as strongly as any mother.

Homeownership has plummeted over the last decade and the "British dream" of buying a house is increasingly out of reach, she said.

Local authorities and housing associations will be encouraged to bid for money from the new funding pot to support a "new generation of council houses".

She said: "So whether you're trying to buy your own, renting privately and looking for more security, or have been waiting for years on a council list, help is on its way."

The Prime Minister also announced that the Government will next week publish draft legislation to impose a cap on energy prices.

Following the election, Mrs May said that energy companies would be given a chance to make pricing structures fairer.

But she told the conference that it was now clear that the energy market was "broken" and that those being "punished" by higher prices were the most loyal customers, often the poor, elderly and less-educated and those in rented homes.

"While we are in favour of free markets, we will always take action to fix them when they are broken. We will always take on monopolies and vested interests when they are holding people back," she said. "One of the greatest examples in Britain today is the broken energy market.

"That's why next week this Government will publish a draft Bill to put a price cap on energy bills, meeting our manifesto promise and bringing an end to rip-off energy prices once and for all."

The announcements came in the Prime Minister's keynote speech to the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, in which she promised to "renew the British dream for a new generation of young people" who feel they have been locked out of economic progress.

After a four-day conference dominated by speculation over Boris Johnson's leadership ambitions, Mrs May made no mention of her Foreign Secretary by name, instead praising the "team" around her in the Cabinet. And she singled out for praise Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson, often tipped as one of Mr Johnson's main potential rivals for the top post.

She apologised for running an election campaign earlier this year which was "too scripted, too presidential" and allowed the Conservatives to be painted as the party of continuity at a time when voters wanted change. And she repeatedly assured delegates that, following the botched poll, "we have listened and we have learned".

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