'Change is coming': May turns her back on 40 years of Tory ideology

'If you’re an accountant, a financial adviser or a middleman who helps people to avoid what they owe to society, we’re coming after you too,' says PM

Rob Merrick
Wednesday 05 October 2016 13:19 BST
Theresa May tells public to 'come with me and seize the day'

Theresa May promised to be on the side of "ordinary working class people" as she vowed to get tough with tax-dodgers, reckless multinational companies and greedy bosses.

In her first party conference speech as prime minister, Mrs May broke with 40 years of Conservatism by pledging to lead a Government that will intervene in economic markets to improve society.

And she urged her party and the nation to seize the unique moment of the shock Brexit vote to drive through her new agenda, saying repeatedly: “A change has got to come.”

On Brexit, Ms May – despite supporting Remain – hailed the opportunities that could flow from a “quiet revolution that took place in our country just three months ago”.

She said: “A revolution in which millions of our fellow citizens stood up and said they were not prepared to be ignored anymore.

“Because this is a turning point for our country. A once-in-a-generation chance to change the direction of our nation for good. To step back and ask ourselves what kind of country we want to be.”

In a speech lacking new detailed policy, Ms May instead grab the mantle of change – putting herself on the side of people angry with the “rich and the powerful”.

She said: “Nobody, no individual tycoon and no single business, however rich, has succeeded on their own.

“We’ve all played a part in that success. So it doesn’t matter to me who you are - if you’re a tax-dodger, we’re coming after you.

“If you’re an accountant, a financial adviser or a middleman who helps people to avoid what they owe to society, we’re coming after you too.

“An economy that works for everyone is one where everyone plays by the same rules. So whoever you are you – however rich or powerful – you have a duty to pay your tax. And we’re going to make sure you do.”

Ms May also criticised those who saw themselves as “a citizen of the world”, free from the “bonds” of citizenship and the duties that brought.

She told them: “You don’t understand what the very word ‘citizenship’ means.

“So if you’re a boss who earns a fortune but doesn’t look after your staff, an international company that treats tax laws as an optional extra, a household name that refuses to work with the authorities even to fight terrorism, a director who takes out massive dividends while knowing that the company pension is about to go bust, I’m putting you on warning.

“This can’t go on anymore. A change has got to come. And this party – the Conservative Party – is going to make that change.”

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