Tim Yeo loses his fight to remain MP for South Suffolk

 

Tim Yeo said he respected the outcome and would give full support to his successor

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Well it's happened. After 30 years in the job Tim Yeo will no longer represent South Suffolk after the next general election.

He's been turfed out by his own local party following a ballot of its 600 members. Apparently almost 500 of them took part in the poll, a turnout of 82%.

Mr Yeo took the decision to seek a postal ballot of the full membership of the local party when the local executive failed to select him as a candidate for the next general election back in November.

It was just a month after the House of Commons sleaze watchdog cleared Mr Yeo, Chairman of the Energy Select Committee, of breaking parliamentary rules on lobbying.

The ballot was a risk he obviously thought was worth taking but his confidence in his ability to fight for his seat was clearly misplaced.

Tim Yeo: "I've actually been one of the most influential chairs of a select committee during this Parliament"

In a statement, Mr Yeo said: "It has been a privilege to serve as MP for South Suffolk since 1983. I will continue to work for all my constituents until the general election next year.

"I will give my full and unqualified support to whoever is chosen as the candidate here in South Suffolk. I wish him or her every success."

South Suffolk Conservative Association Chairman Toby Kramers said: "This has been a difficult time for the association. Our priority now is to work together for success in the European elections later this year and in the General Election in 2015."

Knife-edge

Meanwhile Simon Barrett, who's on the executive of the South Suffolk Conservatives, revealed that the relationship with Mr Yeo had not been good for more than two years.

Mr Yeo told us: "It was a knife-edge result but I respect the outcome. I think there's overwhelming evidence about the role I have played in parliament and in South Suffolk."

He held the seat at six general elections with thumping majorities but too many people believe he spent too much time away from South Suffolk dealing with other interests. He was accused of being "virtually invisible".

And in Westminster we found few supporters among his fellow MPs, even though his election website was full of endorsements, including one from Chancellor George Osborne.

The Prime Minister himself had written a letter praising the unfortunate Mr Yeo. David Cameron said: "It would be a great loss to your constituents, to parliament, and to the Conservative Party if the South Suffolk Conservative Association did not re-select you."

It seems that they are quite prepared to put up with that loss and Mr Cameron's and Mr Osborne's endorsements fell on deaf ears.

Perhaps that also tells a story about where this party is at the moment and gives a sign that grassroots Tories are reasserting themselves.

 
Deborah McGurran Article written by Deborah McGurran Deborah McGurran Political editor, East of England

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