Coronavirus: Conservative Party conference goes virtual

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Boris Johnson speaks at the Conservative's 2019 conference

The Conservative Party's annual conference will be held online this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The gathering of the party's members was due to take place in Birmingham in October.

In a letter to members, the party's chairwoman Amanda Milling said she hoped some events would go ahead, if allowed under government guidelines.

The Labour Party announced in May that its September conference would move online.

The Liberal Democrats have also cancelled their gathering in favour of an online event, and the SNP said all its "large scale" events would go online, with details announced soon.

In her letter, Ms Milling said many would be "disappointed" not to be able to physically attend conference, which is a "highlight of the political calendar".

But she said the party's "first priority" was the health and safety of people attending conference. Any events that do take place will be held "following the strictest safety guidelines".

Members who have bought conference passes already will be contacted with instructions "in due course," she said.

Details of the virtual conference will be announced shortly, Ms Milling added, with a "full agenda" available in early September.

Thousands of activists, politicians, journalists and lobbyists normally attend the party conferences to debate policy and socialise - and the events are major source of revenue for the main parties.