The Tories will decide at the end of next week who will stand for the party for the Rutland and Melton seat at next month’s General Election following the surprise news yesterday (Wednesday) that Sir Alan Duncan was stepping down as MP after 27 years.
Members of the Rutland and Melton Conservative Association have already started work, in collaboration with the party’s central office, to identify a shortlist of three candidates.
A vote will then be taken next Friday (November 8) to decide which person will then go forward to stand on December 12.
Association chair, Byron Rhodes, said the shock news of Sir Alan standing down left them little time to prepare for the election, which was called by Parliament this week in a bid to establish a government with a big enough majority to deliver Brexit.
Mr Rhodes told the Melton Times this morning: “We have to move fast because nominations have to be in by November 15 so it is all hands to the pump.
“We have a general meeting of the association next Friday at which all members who have paid up for at least three months will get a vote on selecting the candidate.
“We will have a shortlist of probably three people because of the short amount of time we have to do this.
“We are working with central office because we can only select from their approved list of candidates.”
No names have so far been decided for the shortlist but the association has an idea of what type of person they would like to stand.
The Rutland and Melton seat has traditionally been a Conservative stonghold with Sir Alan enjoying a sizeable majority of around 23,000 at the most recent General Election in 2017.
“Some people would like a local person to be selected but the most important thing is to have someone capable of doing the job,” said Mr Rhodes.
“Clearly we need someone with local knowledge and rural knowledge and someone who understands that this is a large geographical constituency with lots of farming businesses and other types of business too.”
Sir Alan had been re-selected by the association as the Tory candidate for Rutland and Melton earlier this year so the announcement that he wouldn’t be standing took members by surprise.
Mr Rhodes added: “I had no inkling at all that he wasn’t going to to stand.
“It has caused surprise among members but he is not the only one who is standing down.
“Nicky Morgan has decided not to stand which was also a surprise.
“Parliament is changing and a lot of people are walking away but there are still plenty of people coming forward to do the job.”
In his statement yesterday announcing he wouldn’t be standing, Sir Alan said: “There is no right time to go but I felt I’d had a good run over my 27 years.
“Seven shadow cabinet jobs, seven years as a minister of state, two years on the Intelligence Committee, heaven knows how many leadership campaigns, and two bypasses funded in the constituency.
“Rather than become a wise old buffer who nobody listens to I look forward to taking up new challenges.
“Rutland and Melton is a fabulous constituency and the best place to live in the UK, so I’ll not be moving.
“I have worked with some fantastic people in so many areas of life locally.
“I have had three very fulfilling decades which I hope have improved the lives of lots of constituents.”
Prospective Parliamentary Candidates announced so far for December’s election for the Rutland and Melton seat are Dr Carol Weaver (Liberal Democrats) and Jim Bennett (Brexit Party).
The Labour and Green Party candidates are expected to be revealed soon.
The Rutland and Melton seat officially becomes vacant, along with the other 649 seats, shortly after midnight on Wednesday November 6, when Parliament is dissolved.