Southend conservatives stand firm on replacement for Sir David Amess

Southend Tories insist they will not “take any candidate shoved on to us,” as a replacement for Sir David Amess in the Southend West constituency.

Conservatives in the borough have stated they want someone local and familiar with issues to represent the constituency, not someone from “outside the area”.

It is feared a politician from outside the borough will be chosen by Tory HQ as a shoe-in for a safe seat.

Both the Labour and Lib Dems have stated they will not be contesting the seat out of respect to Sir David.

John Lamb, chairman of the Southend West Conservatives Association said: “There will be people starting to apply but there are ways that we will have to say it will not be a choice for Parliament.

“It is us locally who will select a candidate when it is time. It will be the candidate that we want to represent the borough.

“Having had David for more than 20 years, a hard working constituency MP, we are not going to take any candidate they want to shove on to us.”

Nigel Holdcroft, president of Southend West Conservatives, is also hoping the candidate will be from the borough.

He said: “Normally there would be short-listed candidates which would be reduced by the executive down to two then all members of the constituency party would vote to make a decision.

“I’m not entirely sure as to whether this by-election will be different in that the Conservative Party would be involved in the decision. If I was to gamble on it I would say it would be a local decision but there might be a special rule for by-elections.”

Mr Holdcroft said replacing Sir David who lived in the Leigh constituency with an outsider would not be the preference of Southend’s Conservatives.

He said: “It’s difficult. I don’t know if any locally based people who would be interested will come forward over the next week or so. The Conservative Party might want to offer a safe seat to a more well established candidate but that is not something the local party would support.

“We had someone who lived in the community. Any candidate would have to commit to living here.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter