Suffolk: After “very close” defeat, Tim Yeo says he will not seek re-election elsewhere
Tim Yeo claimed the vote of South Suffolk Conservatives which saw him defeated in his bid to stand for parliament in 2015 had been “very close”.
But the South Suffolk MP said he would not seek re-election either as an independent or in another seat, claiming as a Tory “loyalist” he was gunning for a majority in the seat.
The chairman of the Commons Energy and Climate Change select committee, who spent the day at Conservative Headquarters in Westminster watching the postal vote count, claimed that his support for gay marriage, strong views on climate change and support for the European Union were not “universally held” in the constituency, as he reflected on his defeat last night.
But he also praised party members who had worked hard to secure him a majority for so many years.
Mr Yeo, who was told by his executive in November that he would not automatically be re-selected to stand, refuted claims that he was not a visible constituency MP.
Executive member Simon Barrett wrote in a national newspaper running up to the vote: “People are puzzled why he lives in Sandwich, Kent, 125 miles away, next door to his beloved Royal St George’s Golf Club, rather than beautiful and historic Sudbury.” But Mr Yeo said he has had a house in the constituency for 31 years, where he was almost every weekend. “That is what it is reasonable to expect a member to do and during the week I am expected to be in Westminster.”
He also defended his work as chairman of the Energy and Climate Change select committee and highlighted that he was holding people to account, claiming he had given power companies a “roasting” last month.
“I was doing my job and the job of an MP is not only in the constituency. I was a minister in John Major’s government, I was in the shadow cabinet under three leaders and chairman of a select committee for two terms.”
The South Suffolk MP said he had been contacted by party members asking for a ballot after he was de-selected by the executive last year. “I thought it was important that the whole of the constituency party had their chance to have their say. I had support from the Prime Minister, the Chancellor, Michael Gove and the other Suffolk MPs. They wanted me to continue.
“I am one of the most influential backbenchers. They believed I had a great deal to offer for another term. My party members disagree.”
He added that he was extremely proud of his record as an MP and there were a number of campaigns that he knew “could not have been achieved” without his leadership, including an eight year campaign for a new health facility in Sudbury and the campaign against pylons “across our most beautiful countryside”.
“I wouldn’t try to play politics. I wanted to make sure we got the right outcome.
“This is the sort of thing I believe I have done. I can also point to many individuals over the years who have been helped by my intervention.”
He said that in his final months as an MP he would continue to speak out on issues like climate change.