The potential successor to Sir Alan Duncan as Melton MP has described it as the ‘privilege of my life’ after being selected to stand for the Conservative Party at next month’s General Election.
Alicia Kearns, an expert in counter-terrorism issues, was elected last night (Friday) as Prospective Parliamentary Candidate by members of the Rutland and Melton Conservative Association.
With Sir Alan enjoying a 23,000 majority at the last election two years ago, Mrs Kearns will be in pole position to succeed him as MP, following his surprise decision to stand down after 27 years service, when the nation goes to the polls on December 12.
There had been rumours that Prime Minister Boris Johnson was set to be parachuted in as a candidate for what is regarded as a safe Tory seat but that never transpired and Mrs Kearns was chosen.
She took to Twitter following her election, posting: “Thank you Rutland and Melton Conservatives for putting your trust in me.
“It is the privilege of my life to be given the opportunity to serve you.
“Thank you to Sir Alan Duncan for your years of dedication to this beautiful area.
“Honoured to succeed you as the Conservative candidate.”
Mrs Kearns, who is married with a son, stood at the 2017 General Election as the Tory candidate for the London seat of Mitcham and Morden but finished a distant second to Labour’s Siobhain McDonagh despite increasing the Conservative vote in the constituency by the biggest amount since 1987.
She grew up in Suffolk and Cambridgeshire and attended her local comprehensive, Impington Village College, before going on to study at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, where she gained a degree in social and political sciences.
Mrs Kearns is acknowledged as a counter-terrorism (CT) expert, and has been directing CT, counter disinformation and hybrid warfare interventions in Lebanon, Morocco and the Western Balkans.
During her career she has worked for the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, where she led UK Government interventions in Syria and Iraq and advised over 70 Governments on how to defeat the terrorist group Daesh (ISIS), insurgent groups, and to counter malign state disinformation efforts.
This included countering Russian disinformation in Syria, attending the UN-led peace talks on Syria and deployments to Iraq, Kuwait and Ukraine.
Mrs Kearns also worked at the UK Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Justice.
She is an animalm lover and volunteers with Battersea Cat and Dog Shelter fostering cats.
Mrs Kearns will contest the Rutland and Melton seat with Labour candidate, Andy Thomas, who has been chosen by local party members.
Mr Thomas said: “I am honoured and thrilled to be selected by Rutland and Melton Labour Party to be the Labour candidate in this vital election.
“It’s time for real change.
“Labour has the most radical, positive, people-focused plan of modern times.
“I look forward to meeting as many people as possible in the next few weeks and sharing our message and great plans for a better future.”
Mr Thomas was born into a ‘police family’ and grew up in council estates in North Wales.
Educational opportunities widened his horizons and enabled him to develop a successful and interesting career in the public sector.
Mr Thomas has worked on rehousing families from slum clearance in Salford, fighting racial discrimination in Manchester and London, and working for urban regeneration in Loughborough and Leicester.
He was elected a Labour councillor of Manchester City Council in 1979-80 and was a candidate for Harborough and Leicestershire Councils from 2015.
Mr Thomas was Labour’s parliamentary Candidate for Harborough in the 2017 General Election when his team doubled Labour’s share of the vote.
Standing for the Green Party in the election for the Rutland and Melton seat - for the third time since 2015 - is Alastair McQuillan.
Dr Carol Weaver will stand for the Liberal Democrats and Jim Bennett for the Brexit Party.