Theresa May's speech interrupted by prankster handing over fake P45

PM's keynote address also disrupted by her persistent cough

Tom Batchelor@_tombatchelor
Wednesday 04 October 2017 13:10
Prankster delivers fake P45 to Theresa May during conference speech

Theresa May's conference speech descended into chaos after a TV prankster interrupted her appearance to hand her a fake P45.

The Prime Minister was forced to pause her keynote address to the Tory gathering after Simon Brodkin handed her the sheet of paper.

Brodkin appeared to be posing as a photographer in the media scrum gathered below Ms May's lectern. He picked up his camera briefly before putting it down and handing her the paper, which Ms May took from him.

He was quickly escorted from the hall by security to shouts of "out, out, out" from the audience and was later arrested by police, Tory officials confirmed.

Caught off guard by the prank, Ms May re-read a line from her speech before responding that she planned to give a P45 - the tax form handed out by an employer to a departing staff member - to the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

Brodkin tweeted that the P45 was handed to Ms May on behalf of Boris Johnson, whose public commentary on the Prime Minister's Brexit strategy led to suggestions he had her job in his sights.

A close-up photo of the fake P45 showed it listed the “reason for termination” as “neither strong nor stable”.

(Christopher Furlong/Getty)

Mr Johnson's own future in the Cabinet has been called into question following perceived attempts to undermine the Prime Minister and her approach to Brexit.

Calls for the Foreign Secretary to resign intensified on Wednesday after ill-judged comments about the need to “clear up the bodies” in northern Libya emerged.

After being bundled out of the Manchester Central venue in handcuffs, Brodkin told reporters: "Boris told me to do it. He's left me in the lurch."

The Prime Minister's spokesperson said: "Greater Manchester Police have arrested a man for breach of peace. His name is out there and we expect there to be a thorough investigation into what has happened."

GMP's chief superintendent John O’Hare said the prankster was "arrested to prevent a breach of the peace and was released a short time later".

He added: “The man had legitimate accreditation which granted him access to the conference site.

“In light of this we will be reviewing the accreditation process with the Conservative Party.

“Even with accreditation, everyone at the conference goes through airport-style searches before being allowed entry to the site.”

Brodkin, best known for his comedy character Lee Nelson, rose to fame after gate-crashing a Fifa press conference and throwing dollar bills at the outgoing president Sepp Blatter.

He was arrested by Swiss authorities for trespassing at the event in July 2015 but later released.

He has also targeted Philip Green, the former owner of collapsed retailer BHS, by hanging a sign reading "BHS Destroyer" on the billionaire's superyacht, and disrupted then US presidential candidate Donald Trump at a Turnberry ribbon-cutting ceremony by attempting to hand out golf balls with a swastika printed on them.

Ms May's much-anticipated speech was also disrupted by a persistent cough, which forced her to stop at several points to drink water and take a cough sweet from the Chancellor, Philip Hammond.

She was given supportive applause by Tory activists as she carried on with the speech.

As Mr Hammond delivered the sweet to the stage Ms May joked: "I hope you noticed that, the Chancellor giving something away free."

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