Tories call for 'change at the top'

Tory delegates are gathering for this year's spring conference in Brighton.

Co-chairman Liam Fox will open the conference and is expected to criticise the Labour government's record, claiming Tony Blair's reign has been characterised by "lost trust and failure to deliver".

The Conservative Party will call for a "change at the top" in Britain and will focus on attacking Labour's failure" to control immigration and asylum, its record on the NHS and its policies on education and crime.

Dr Fox will declare that a Tory government would sort out the "shambles" of immigration, put patients before statistics and bring discipline to schools. Highlighting Conservative promises to reduce tax by £4 billion, he will say that for too long the Conservatives failed to stand up for the case for lower taxes.

"We need a Prime Minister who is straight-talking and honest. We need a Prime Minister willing to make the tough decisions on reform," Dr Fox will conclude.

"We need a Prime Minister who doesn't want to be all things to all men.

"We need a Prime Minister willing to defend our traditions and heritage, who is in tune with our national identity, and who believes in an independent United Kingdom.

"Michael Howard will be that Prime Minister."

Conservative leader Michael Howard had been due to welcome delegates to the conference on Friday, but was delayed by protracted Parliamentary wranglings over controversial terror legislation, which finished late last night. Mr Howard will now address delegates at lunchtime today.

Mr Howard is likely to defend the Conservative Party's handling of the Prevention of Terrorism Bill. The Tories refused to back the bill until Tony Blair promised that the legislation would be reviewed within a year.