Wednesday 18 July 2018

P45 prank upstages May's bid to reassert leadership

Comedian Simon Brodkin confronts British Prime Minister Theresa May with a P45 form during her keynote speech at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester yesterday. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA
Comedian Simon Brodkin confronts British Prime Minister Theresa May with a P45 form during her keynote speech at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester yesterday. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA
Boris Johnson. Photo: Hannah McKay

Helena Horton

British Prime Minister Theresa May's keynote speech at the Tory conference descended into chaotic scenes after she struggled to cope with a sore throat and was interrupted by a prankster.

She intended the speech to relaunch her premiership after a Conservative Party conference beset by cabinet splits and leadership speculation.

She made a full apology for her disastrous snap election, admitting that it had been too "presidential" and scripted.

She also conceded that her "unemotional" image as an "ice maiden" had been damaging and spoke of her sadness at not being able to have children.

But her speech was overshadowed by comedian Simon Brodkin, who got through security to step up to the podium and hand the prime minister a P45.

The prankster said "Boris asked me to give you this" as he managed to make his way to the front of the room and give it to her. The prank has been described as a "massive security breach" as he managed to get within arm's length of the prime minister, with police reviewing the conference security process.

After taking hold of the piece of paper, Mrs May was given a standing ovation as the man was escorted out, to a chorus of "Out! Out! Out!"

The prankster was arrested for breach of the peace, according to Mrs May's spokesperson.

Tory MP Johnny Mercer said: "I think it's totally unacceptable that an individual should be allowed to get that close to the prime minister and behave in that manner - I just find it tough because for me a lot of it comes down to respect as well.

"I feel very strongly about the respect we have for the head of government. For a prankster to get that close and do what he did presents serious questions to her security.

"He was there for a long time with someone patting his back asking if he would like to come this way - that's not what I expect for the security of the prime minister."

He also tweeted: "WTF? How does someone get that close to the PM, and then stay there? She's the PM. Makes me rather angry."

Patrick McLoughlin, the Conservative Party chairman, said: "It is being looked at. There will be an investigation into what happened.

"There will be an inquiry. I knew there was sufficient security around the prime minister."

Asked if there should be an investigation, Justine Greening, the education secretary, said: "I was very surprised that somebody was able to get that close to the prime minister and also to the foreign secretary. I am sure people will want to look at exactly what happened."

Mr Brodkin had accreditation, according to Greater Manchester Police, and was allowed to be in the room.

He has a track record of pulling off similar stunts. He once threw a pile of dollars at then Fifa president Sepp Blatter during a press conference.

He was seen speaking to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson after he handed the prime minister the P45, which stated the reasons for termination of the job were 'Neither strong nor stable' and 'We're a bit worried about Jezza'. It also claimed to be requested by Mr Johnson.

Mrs May said after it happened: "There is one person I would like to give a P45 to, and that's Jeremy Corbyn!"

Speaking as he was ejected from the conference hall the prankster said: "Boris said in one of those corridor meetings, 'do me a favour, son, and give Theresa this, it is about time things moved on'. It was a P45 from Boris. He said, 'it is either me or her'."

Mr Brodkin was body-searched by police and led away through the security gates in handcuffs.

The comedian later tweeted: "Hi @BorisJohnson, I gave Theresa her P45 just like you asked." (© Daily Telegraph London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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