MPs warned that Brexit alone “will not win the next election”
Her government has also drawn up plans to get Britain moving, overhauling the country’s damaged road network.
And the Prime Minister has announced a new festival of Britain in 2022, which will showcase the country’s “dazzling” array of talent.
Government insiders denied Mrs May was reacting to the challenges of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour conference last week, saying the plans had been months in the making.
But she has come under increasing pressure from nervous ex-ministers and backbenchers to take the fight to the opposition by highlighting the Government’s successes and setting out a vision for the future.
They fear Brexit is dominating the agenda so much, these achievements and aims may be forgotten.
The theme of the Birmingham conference will be “opportunity” and creating the post-Brexit conditions to ensure “all four nations [of the UK] stand tall and proud in the world”.
Arriving yesterday, Mrs May said: “We have a busy few days ahead of us, talking about how we’ll make life better for ordinary working people.”
Under the housing plans, ministers want to increase stamp duty on those who do not pay tax in the UK by between one and three per cent, using the additional revenue to tackle the homelessness issue.
It is predicted to lead to a fall in foreign ownership, especially at the top end of the market, freeing up more homes.
Countries like Australia and Singapore have similar policies and York University says around one in 10 new homes in London were bought by non-residents from 2014 to 2016.
Theresa May arrives for the conference yesterday
Mrs May said: “At Conservative conference last year, I said I would dedicate my premiership to restoring the British Dream, that life should be better for each new generation, and that means fixing our broken housing market.
“Britain will always be open to people who want to live, work and build a life here. However, it cannot be right that it is as easy for individuals who don’t live in the UK, as well as foreign-based companies, to buy homes as hard-working British residents. For too many people the dream of home ownership has become all too distant and the indignity of rough sleeping remains all too real.
“This Government is committed to helping hard-working British residents get the right home for them and helping to end the scourge of rough sleeping for good.”
The Festival, a celebration of the country planned for 2022, will come 70 years after 1951’s Festival of Britain and echo the 1851 Great Exhibition.
It will coincide with the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and is expected to generate billions.
Meanwhile Transport Secretary Chris Grayling pledged to give drivers a smoother ride, with a major assault on bad road repairs that cause potholes.
He said: “One of the things I will be saying in my speech later this week is that an awful lot of time is taken up in this department on rail issues.
“But actually, we should not forget that for most people in most places it is the motor car and the roads which are the important part of their lives.”
Mr Grayling also fears petrol prices could surge to record levels next month, as the impact of US sanctions on Iran hits the international oil rate.
And he attacked rail unions, saying there was a “culture of militancy in the railways and the transport sector which is damaging to Britain”.
Former ministers and backbench MPs want Mrs May to offer more to voters to counter Labour.
Ex-minister John Penrose said: “Brexit is important, but we mustn’t let it blot out everything else. If we let far-Left Labour policies get hold, Britain will go backwards.”
Leading Brexiteer Jacob ReesMogg praised ongoing polices including plans to cut the UK’s corporation tax rate to some of the lowest in the developed world.
He said: “If we want to have a chance at winning the next election we have to deliver Brexit. But that will not be enough to win the next election.”
Others warned Mrs May not to throw the baby out with the bath water and accept Labour’s analysis.
One said: “We need to underline our incredible jobs and economic growth record and the fact that Labour would put that at risk.”
Cabinet Office Minster and de facto deputy prime minister David Lidington said the Tory message got lost at the last election because “we were not getting that message across with sufficient persuasive power”.
He said: “As a party, I think we have to make again, from first principles and telling stories to illustrate it, the reasons why we believe that a free-enterprise economy is the best way to deliver both high living standards in the face of global competition and digital technology.”
He added that at the same time, it should “enable individual men and women to have greater freedom for themselves and their family”.
Theresa May will introduce higher duty for house buyers who do not pay tax in the UK
Poll lead is ideal start for party
THE Tories have gained a three-point lead on Labour going into their conference today.
Despite a well-received performance from Jeremy Corbyn at Labour’s conference, his party dropped three points.
The Tories gained two, to lead 39 per cent to 36 per cent. Brexit appeared to be the dividing issue for Labour supporters, with 45 per cent wanting Mr Corbyn to fight for Remain, yet 40 per cent believing the party is moving towards a soft Brexit.
The Opinium poll found that more than half (57 per cent) could not imagine Mr Corbyn as Prime Minister although his net approval rating increased.
Adam Drummond, head of political polling at Opinium, said: “Although Liverpool was a good conference for Jeremy Corbyn, it hasn’t worked for Labour overall.”
1 of 11
Loud and proud is how to win
Commentary by Julia Hartley-Brewer
WHY would anyone vote Tory?
That’s the question that the Conservatives need to answer this week.
It’s not that there aren’t plenty of good reasons but, right now, the message being given to supporters can be summed up as: “We’re not Corbyn.”
But that sort of negative campaigning isn’t going to hack it any more.
Voters will need a lot more than that if the Tories are to win the next election.
Labour is winning the war of ideas because they have something to say.
So what do the Tories need to do to get voters excited about voting Conservative again?
Jacob Rees-Mogg speaks to the press as he arrives for the launch of a Brexit research paper
Well, on her first day as PM Theresa May spoke of ending burning injustices and helping families that are “just about managing”.
So why not do that?
Top of the “To Do” list is to build up to two million genuinely affordable houses.
That will help families get on the ladder and put money in their pockets to spend on our dying high streets.
Next is to sort out immigration and train up young Britons to do the jobs we import workers to do.
Third is to get back to basics on key issues like tackling violent crime.
And yes, the Tories need to deliver Brexit, with no more cop-outs. Most of all, they need to offer a positive vision of why they want to govern.
If they can’t do that, they don’t deserve to win.
● Julia Hartley-Brewer is a talkRADIO breakfast show presenter.
Tried and tested way to deal
Commentary by John Penrose MP
THE EU thinks that Theresa May’s Chequers plan is a stinker. So far, so normal.
They were never going to agree to everything we wanted straight away.
And the PM is quite right to ask them to come up with a few ideas of their own, instead of just criticising ours.
But we should be doing a bit of thinking of our own.
We must have alternatives, because any negotiation needs give and take. If not Chequers, then what?
Britain’s Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn sits on stage at the annual Labour Party Conference
That’s where a Canada Plus plan comes in. Forget the fancy wording: the key point is the EU has agreed to pretty much all of it before.
It’s a patchwork quilt of trade deals they’ve already signed with other countries, including Canada.
So we wouldn’t be asking for anything new and it’s miles better than no deal at all.
David Davis had already developed something like this and now the trade experts at the Institute for Economic Affairs think tank have issued their version too.
It would let us sign deals with the rest of the world and give business a clear set of rules for low-friction trading with the EU after we’ve left.
But, most importantly, it would deliver the referendum decision itself, because we’re all democrats.
Negotiations are about finding common ground. That’s what a Canada Plus-type deal would do.
● John Penrose is the Prime Minister’s Anticorruption Champion.