THE CONSERVATIVE candidate to stand in Meriden to replace Dame Caroline Spelman will be selected on November 5, party sources have told us.
It is understood the Meriden Conservative Association is to produce a shortlist of candidates, with potential involvement of national party officials.
There has been some discontent among local Tory parties elsewhere in the country, where longlists have been drawn up secretly by national Conservative Party officials, seemingly under emergency powers used for snap elections.
Conservative officials were tightlipped when asked by the Solihull Observer whether the same procedures were being applied in Meriden.
Dame Caroline announced in September that she would be standing down at the next general election, which is now expected to be imminent.
MPs are set to vote later today for an election before Christmas, on December 12.
It is the first time the Meriden Conservative Association will select a new Parliamentary candidate since Mrs Spelman was victorious ahead of the 1997 general election. In that year she replaced Conservative Iain Mills as MP with a majority over Labour of just 582 votes in a Labour landslide year.
A regional spokesperson told the Solihull Observer: “Local party members will be called to a meeting where they will interview candidates, who will take questions from members before selection goes to a secret ballot.”
Dame Caroline won by a massive 19,000 majority ahead of Labour in 2017, when she increased her majority by seven per cent.
She has since been a leading Parliamentary voice in a divided party against a ‘no-deal Brexit’, which she argues would threaten thousands of jobs in her constituency and the region.
Her support for taking no-deal off the table had put her at odds with the new Prime Minister Boris Johnson. But she avoided voting against the government in crucial votes, thus avoiding the fate of other Tory rebels who had the party whip removed.
In announcing her retirement, she said: “It has been a real privilege to serve the constituency over the last 22 years, but the time has come for a new person to represent the interests of Meriden in a new Parliament which will continue to be dominated by the consequences of Brexit.
“Brexit is… a process of withdrawal, negotiation and then reconciliation of the social divisions it has caused which may take years to heal.
“Withdrawal is not a destination but one step on the journey.
“Now is the time to stand back and let a new Conservative candidate take this process forward.”
Liberal Democrats have announced their candidate is Solihull Councillor Laura McCarthy.
Councillor Stephen Caudwell will stand for the Green Party.
The Labour Party has not yet selected its candidate.