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The Conservative Party, officially the Conservative and Unionist Party and also known colloquially as the Tories, is one of the two main political parties in the United Kingdom, along with the Labour Party. It is the current governing party, having won the 2019 general election, and has been the primary governing party in the United Kingdom since 2010. The party is on the right-wing  of the political spectrum, and encompasses various ideological factions including one-nation conservatives, Thatcherites, and traditionalist conservatives. The party currently has 354 members of Parliament, 260 members of the House of Lords, 9 members of the London Assembly, 31 members of the Scottish Parliament, 16 members of the Welsh Parliament, 4 directly elected mayors, 30 police and crime commissioners, and around 5,647 local councillors. It holds the annual Conservative Party Conference.
The Conservative Party was founded in 1834 from the Tory Party and was one of two dominant political parties in the 19th century, along with the Liberal Party. Under Benjamin Disraeli, it played a preeminent role in politics at the height of the British Empire. In 1912, the Liberal Unionist Party merged with the party to form the Conservative and Unionist Party. Since the 1920s, the Labour Party emerged to be the Conservatives' main rival and the Conservative–Labour political rivalry has shaped modern British politics for the last century.
The party has generally adopted liberal economic policies favouring free markets, including deregulation, privatisation, and marketisation, since the 1980s, although historically it advocated for protectionism. The party is British unionist, opposing a united Ireland as well as Scottish and Welsh independence, and has been critical of devolution. Historically, the party supported the continuance and maintenance of the British Empire. The party has taken various approaches towards the European Union (EU), with eurosceptic and, to an increasingly lesser extent, pro-European factions within it. It embraced a strongly eurosceptic position, with the slogan "Get Brexit Done", following the decision to leave the EU in a 2016 referendum held under the Conservative Party Cameron government. It historically took a socially conservative approach, but its social policy has become more liberal, evidenced by the legalisation of same-sex marriage under the Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition in 2014, the lifting of the ban on women in combat roles in the military in 2016 under the Cameron government and the legalisation of medical cannabis in 2018 under the second May ministry. In defence policy, it favours a strong military capability including an independent nuclear weapons programme and commitment to NATO membership.
For much of modern British political history, the United Kingdom exhibited a wide urban–rural political divide; the Conservative Party's voting and financial support base has historically consisted primarily of homeowners, business owners, farmers, real estate developers and middle class voters, especially in rural and suburban areas of England. However, since the EU referendum in 2016, the Conservatives have also targeted working class voters in small and medium-sized urban areas (which were traditionally Labour supporting) by utilising targeted political campaigns against the perceived harms caused by the freedom of movement for workers in the European Union (within the European Single Market) and the European Convention on Human Rights. The Conservatives' domination of British politics throughout the 20th century—having governed for 65 nonconsecutive years—and its re-emergence in the 2010s has led to it being referred to as one of the most successful political parties in the Western world. [better source needed]
The London, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish branches of the party are semi-autonomous. The Conservatives are a founding member party of the International Democrat Union, and were a founding member of the European Conservatives and Reformists Party.