April 25 2014 Latest news:
Annabelle Dickson, Political Correspondent
Thursday, December 12, 2013
South Suffolk MP Tim Yeo is taking his fight to stand at the next election to his party grassroots - a move that has been backed by a Westmnister colleague who suffered the same fate last month.
Former minister Crispin Blunt said the Mr Yeo was “absolutely right” to fight the recent decision of his party executive not to re-adopt him, by using Tory rules to put it to a full membership vote.
In a statement yesterday Mr Yeo said a postal vote of the 600 members would take place next year to allow them to decide if they want him to stand as candidate in the 2015 general election.
Mr Blunt was given the backing of rank-and-file Conservatives in his Reigate and Banstead constituency just a few weeks ago, despite his party hierarchy refusing to give him their support.
The former Army officer, who lost his job as prisons minister in last autumn’s reshuffle, worked with Mr Yeo as a shadow minister a decade ago and described him as an “immensely talented” MP.
At a South Suffolk constituency meeting last month Mr Yeo was told he had been de-selected to stand at the next election.
A South Suffolk Conservative spokesman said last night: “Mr Yeo has decided to go for a postal ballot and the association will now be observing the process and no further statement will be issued until after the close of the process.”
The executive decision came after Mr Yeo was cleared in an investigation by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner after claims he had offered to coach a potential witness due to attend a committee he chairs.
Mr Yeo strongly denied any wrong-doing and referred himself to the commissioner. He was cleared in a report published last month.
He returned to his role as chairman of the energy and climate change committee after temporarily stepping down while the investigation was ongoing.
Mr Blunt described Mr Yeo as an incredible asset to the Conservative team in Suffolk.
“There are a lot of young and new members of parliament there and as a region you need one or two elder statesmen there who know how to get around the system. He has just demonstrated that on the A14. It is incredibly important for the Tory party to have someone of that experience and stature.”
He added that from his experience, he advised Mr Yeo to go out and make the case to members.
“They are one removed from the executive when there is always an element of personal relationships that come into it. I hope that the membership of his party think about the wider interests of the Tory party, as well as continue to have a Member of Parliament for Suffolk who is immensely talented in his own right.”
In the statement Mr Yeo said he had consulted widely among local Conservatives in the last few days.
“Many of them have expressed support for me and want to vote on whether I should be their candidate at the next election,” he said.
“I believe they should now have that chance.”
He added: “Whatever their decision is I will continue to work hard to secure a Conservative victory in South Suffolk as I have done ever since I was first chosen as the candidate for this constituency.”
Under the rules of the Conservative Party a postal ballot, the outcome of which is binding, can be held in the event of a party executive deciding not to re-select a candidate.
Voting papers will be sent to party members on January 20.