Suffolk: MP Yeo in battle to be re-adopted for general election

South Suffolk MP Tim Yeo.

South Suffolk MP Tim Yeo. - Credit: PA

Suffolk’s longest-serving MP is fighting for his political life as Conservatives in his South Suffolk Constituency decide whether to re-adopt him for the next general election, we can reveal today.

Tim Yeo has represented the seat since 1983 and has been seen as an effective and hard-working MP.

However he will be 70 by the time of the next general election in 2015 – and would be 75 by the time that parliament is due to end in 2020.

Mr Yeo wants to fight again – but unlike neighbouring seats his Conservative association has not yet held a formal re-selection meeting.

The association has been holding off having a meeting pending the result of a report by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner into claims in the Sunday Times in June that Mr Yeo had offered to coach a potential witness due to appear in front of the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee that he would normally chair.

Mr Yeo denies the claims and referred himself to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner.

However senior Conservatives in South Suffolk believe that the selection of a candidate for the next general election must be completed by the end of this year at the latest.

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They are concerned that Labour’s Jane Basham, who was chosen earlier this year, is making a strong impression among voters and they do not have a candidate in place.

One senior Conservative said: “Tim has been a good MP for many years and is certainly very experienced.

“However I am aware that a lot of party members feel it might be better to have a younger candidate next time who can bring fresh energy to the role.”

Although he has made it clear he wants to stand again, Mr Yeo has not yet formally written to the local association to ask for his name to be put forward.

Mr Yeo said: “It is my intention to fight again. There is a process that MPs that want to stand again go through.

“It is a matter for the constituency party, not the media. I have been through it seven times before.”

When he does ask to be re-selected, the association will have to decide whether to agree to him being adopted unopposed, or whether to open the process to other candidates.

If they do invite other candidates, it will be a clear indication that there is a desire for a change and Mr Yeo may find it difficult to win re-adoption.

A number of branch officials and activists in South Suffolk are understood to believe it could be better to look for another candidate.

Some activists feel Mr Yeo’s presence in the constituency has been less obvious than before since the 2010 election – although they recognise he has taken part in more local events recently.

Another party activist said: “He’s been a good MP, and he has a lot of friends in the constituency – but since 2010 I don’t think he has been so visible and while he’s been about a bit more recently some think it’s too little, too late.”