Theresa May pledges to protect green belt in Sunday Times interview

Sunday Times
Theresa May gave an interview in The Sunday Times

THE GREEN BELT won’t be built on promises local MP Theresa May – in an interview in today’s Sunday Times.

The Maidenhead MP, whose constituency includes Woodley, Twyford, Hare Hatch, Ruscombe, Sonning and Charvil, made the pledge – while also warning that more houses need to built.

Mrs May was being interviewed days after her speech to the Conservative party conference in Manchester, which was interrupted by comedian Simon Brodkin, saw her have a coughing fit and, towards the end, parts of the set started falling down.

She also received several standing ovations from the crowd as she persevered with her speech, which was given in her role as Prime Minister.

Since the speech, given on Wednesday, there have been calls for Mrs May to leave 10 Downing Street and be replaced by another minister, with Boris Johnson’s name in the frame: Simon Brodkin, when presenting Mrs May with the fake P45 during her speech joked that it was Mr Johnson, the former Henley MP, who had put him up to presenting it to her.

And on Saturday, it emerged that former Conservative party chairman Grant Shapps was leading the campaign to topple Mrs May, who was only elected to the office last year following David Cameron’s resignation in the wake of the European referendum.

“It certainly wasn’t the easiest hour I’d had in my life, but I had an important message to deliver and I was determined to do that,” Mrs May told The Sunday Times. “It felt like everyone in the room was with me and willing me on.”

She added that she had been touched by the support she received from delegates, including the hug that her husband Philip gave her on stage seconds after her speech ended.

And Mrs May, who has been seen knocking on her Wokingham borough constituents’ doors over the weekend, said that it was was “hugely important that leaders do not become shut off from the public”.

“From the men I met on a stag do in Tallinn last week to the people I talk to when I’m knocking on doors in my patch, I rarely meet anything other than warmth, wit and wisdom when I’m out and about,” she told The Sunday Times.

It’s been a busy weekend for Mrs May: she spoke at a Wokingham Conservative party dinner held at St Anne’s Manor hotel on Friday night as well as canvassing her constituents.

In the interview, she praised the activists who campaigned for her for their hard work, no doubt thinking of the team behind her in Wokingham borough:

“I know what it’s like – the 5am starts, the door-knocking in the driving rain, stuffing thousands of envelopes and making endless rounds of sandwiches. There is nothing glamorous about being an activist.”  

But it was her comments about house building that will resonate most with Wokingham borough residents: as The Wokingham Paper recently revealed, Wokingham Borough Council has been looking at potentially developing up to 19,500 homes in Twyford, Barkham Square and Grazeley. Some of the proposed sites are on green belt land, while the Grazeley site saw John Redwood plant an oak tree 20 years ago as a pledge never to build on the land.

Mrs May told The Sunday Times that not enough homes had been built “for decades” and that the Conservative party’s policy has seen a significant increase in housebuilding.

“I will dedicate my premiership to fixing our housing market,” she said. “Does this including building all over the green belt? No.”

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