South Suffolk: Tories start search for Yeo’s successor
Conservatives in South Suffolk have started the search for a new candidate to replace de-selected MP Tim Yeo.
Mr Yeo failed to get his party’s nomination to fight the seat at the next general election in February after a high-profile tussle with the local association.
Conservatives in the constituency are to formally start the search for a new candidate for what many Tories will see as a plum seat immediately after the European Election results are announced at the end of the month.
The vacancy for a candidate will be advertised on a website for those who are qualified to seek nomination for Conservative nominations from May 27, the day after the Spring Bank Holiday.
Officials at the Association are expecting a flood of applicants. There has already been considerable interest among and officials expect between 100 and 200 people could apply for the seat.
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These applicants will be whittled down over the next few weeks and a shortlist of candidates will be drawn up.
The new candidate will then be selected at a meeting open to all party members on the evening of Friday, July 11.
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Mr Yeo, who will be 70 by the time of next year’s general election, was dropped by his party after members felt he was not spending enough time in South Suffolk.
At the last general election he had a majority of 8,689 over the Liberal Democrats with Labour a further 8,000 votes behind. It is seen as a safe Conservative seat, and has already attracted a great deal of interest from potential candidates.
Local Conservatives have insisted they are not looking for a star name like Boris Johnson or Michael Portillo, but would prefer to select someone who had a connection with the area, if not necessarily the constituency itself.
There are persistent rumours that Conservative Central Office is seeking a safe seat in the region for St Albans councillor Heidi Allen who controversially lost the nomination to stand for the neighbouring South Cambridgeshire seat despite claims that she received more votes than successful rival Lucy Frazer.
One problem organisers still have to settle is finding a venue large enough for the selection meeting – the association is still trying to find somewhere with space for at least 500, and possibly 700.