Northampton

Northampton Town loan: 'Right time' for MP David Mackintosh to go

David Mackintosh Image copyright ART CONAGHAN
Image caption David Mackintosh had previously said he would he intended to stand for re-election

An MP's decision to step down amid a continuing row about his role in a loan to a football club came at the "right time", his former agent says.

Suresh Patel said Northampton South MP David Mackintosh was correct to step aside "as there is a major police investigation going on".

The Conservative MP had been criticised over his role in the council's loan to Northampton Town when he was leader.

He has denied any wrongdoing but faced de-selection by the party.

Mr Patel, who sits on the executive committee of Northampton South Conservative Association, said it was "likely" Mr Mackintosh would have been de-selected at a local party meeting where his candidacy was expected to be opposed.

Mr Mackintosh was criticised over the loan to the football club from Northampton Borough Council - when he was leader - to rebuild Sixfields stadium and develop nearby land.

Views from Northampton South:

Political opponents of Tory Mr Mackintosh have been lining up to have their say after he decided not to defend his Northampton South seat.

Here's how the other parties have reacted to the news.

Rose Gibbins, chairwoman, UKIP Northampton: "The branch feels like this should help UKIP to increase its vote in Northampton South but we haven't selected a candidate yet."

Jill Hope, Liberal Democrat candidate, Northampton South: "I was genuinely disappointed because I was looking forward to public meetings where he could be challenged on the £10.25m that was given to the Cobblers."

Kevin McKeever, Labour candidate, Northampton South: "Let's not pretend he did it of his own accord. He jumped before he was pushed and it's a shame the electorate can't give their verdict on his performance."

Steve Miller, coordinator and secretary, Northamptonshire Green Party: "The Conservative Party probably knew it would have been very difficult to defend the seat had David Mackintosh been the candidate."

Millions of pounds of public money was lost and the loan is subject to a police investigation into "alleged financial irregularities".

Mary Markham, who succeeded Mr Mackintosh as borough council leader, thanked him for "being brave enough to make this decision".

She said she could not support Mr Mackintosh because "that's the message I've been getting from the electorate".

She added three-quarters of the Conservative Party's executive committee would not have supported Mr Mackintosh's selection.

"But it's a very sad day it had to come to this in the first place," she added.

Image caption Brian Binley announced he would be retiring in 2013

Brian Binley, who represented Northampton South between 2005 and 2015, said he would be prepared to stand in the seat.

"If the party thinks I can help them win this seat to give Theresa May as strong a base as possible for the Brexit negotiations, I will," he said.

He added: "I always thought it was right and proper David should clear his name first."

A candidate will be chosen from a list of three provided by Conservative Party central office.

A BBC investigation found Mr Mackintosh benefited from £30,000 in "hidden" donations to his 2015 general election fighting fund from individuals with links to the company into which most of the loan money disappeared.

Mr Mackintosh previously told the BBC he welcomes the investigation and "will co-operate fully with police".

"I had no reason to believe that the donations were from anyone other than the named donors," he said.

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