Brussels conference hosting Farage and Braverman switches venue after ‘political pressure’

Suella Braverman
Suella Braverman is one of the speakers at the NatCon gathering in Belgium - Paul Grover for The Telegraph

A conservative conference in Brussels hosting Nigel Farage and Suella Braverman has been forced to relocate at the 11th hour after claims of “political pressure” from the local Left-wing mayor, its organisers have said.

The National Conservatism (NatCon) gathering was due to be held at the Concert Noble next week, with speakers also including Viktor Orban, Vladimir Putin’s closest ally in Europe.

But Yoram Hazony, the conference chairman, said his team had been told by the venue that it had to pull the event amid “political pressure” from Philippe Close, the Socialist Party mayor of Brussels.

The conference has now been moved to a smaller forum on the outskirts of the city, outside the jurisdiction of Mr Close.

Mr Hazony, who chairs the Edmund Burke Foundation, the organisation behind NatCon, claimed people within the municipality had been putting pressure on the venue “to try to prevent a conservative conference from taking place”.

He said a representative for the venue’s administrator had told the NatCon team “they were under pressure from the mayor’s office”.

He added: “He said it was political pressure, that they don’t want this event in their city. We received very clear, repeated statements by the venue that they were under pressure and they would not be able to comply with our basic needs. And for that reason, we had to call it off a few days before the event.”

Nigel Farage
Nigel Farage is also scheduled to speak at the conference - Paul Grover for The Telegraph

Pressure had been growing on Concert Noble to cancel the conference, including from the Belgian League of Human Rights and the Belgian Anti-Fascist Coordination, according to local reports.

Mr Hazony said there was a “problem” with “how many people we can fit” into the smaller venue, but added that he believed the conference would nevertheless be “spectacular”.

“I just think that it is incredible that Brussels aspires to be the capital of a vast alliance of democracies, and they can’t tolerate in their own city an event with people who are basically conservatives who are critical of their leftie regime,” he said.

“It’s just astonishing. I mean, if Brussels can’t host both sides of the argument, then maybe the capital of Europe can’t be in Brussels.”

Frank Furedi, the executive director of MCC Brussels, which is helping to organise the event, said: “The city of Brussels is occupied by forces hostile to free speech and democracy.

“Tragically and shamefully, it has become apparent that the political establishment in Brussels is actively collaborating with Left-wing extremists to prevent the free expression of political ideas and opinions in the city.”

Mr Close has been approached for comment.

NatCon organisers said the aim of the event was “strengthening the principles of national conservatism in Western and other democratic countries” ahead of EU parliamentary elections this year.

Last year’s conference, which took place in London, featured prominent Conservative MPs including Jacob Rees-Mogg and Miriam Cates.