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Lincolnshire businesswoman Jo Churchill chosen to replace David Ruffley as new Conservative candidate for Bury St Edmunds

PUBLISHED: 10:45 05 November 2014 | UPDATED: 10:45 05 November 2014

Lincolnshire businesswoman and councillor Jo Churchill is the new Tory candidate for Bury St Edmunds.

Lincolnshire businesswoman and councillor Jo Churchill is the new Tory candidate for Bury St Edmunds.

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Lincolnshire businesswoman and councillor Jo Churchill is the new Tory candidate for Bury St Edmunds.

Mrs Churchill, 50, is the county councillor for Grantham, the birthplace of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

She beat off three other candidates to win the nomination to succeed David Ruffley as Conservative standard bearer in Bury St Edmunds.

She will almost certainly become the second woman MP in Suffolk next May – she will defend a 12,380 Conservative majority.

After winning the nomination at a meeting of 120 party members, Mrs Churchill said: “I am absolutely delighted, over the moon, to have been selected. I am almost speechless.

“I will be moving to the constituency, and I will be setting up a base here straight away.”

She is married with four daughters and she said the whole family was looking forward to establishing a home in the constituency.

She would be spending the next 184 days before the general election getting to know the area and the people and she said her main aims were to help to bring new business and prosperity to the area.

The Bury association was forced to look for a new candidate after current MP David Ruffley announced in July that he would not be standing again in next May’s general election.

Mr Ruffley was first elected in 1997 with a majority of just 368 over Labour’s Mark Ereira. Since then the Tory majority has increased steadily – it was 12,380 in 2010 – while Mr Ereira has switched from Labour to the Green Party.

However this year Mr Ruffley accepted a police caution for common assault following a domestic incident in London, and after weeks of debate, the MP announced he would not stand again next year.

It was the second personal issue to affect Mr Ruffley – in 2010 he spent some weeks away from Parliament recovering from minor injuries after falling under a train.

The new candidate will be expected by the party to take an active role in Bury St Edmunds life over the next few months – and to base themselves in the constituency after next year’s election if the Conservatives are successful.

The seat itself is seen as one of the Conservative’s most attractive prospects and attracted scores of applicants which were whittled down to a long list of 11 and a shortlist of four before yesterday’s meeting.

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