The current MP for Southborough and Tunbridge Wells Greg Clark has survived a selection meeting of his local party and will be the official Conservative candidate at the December 12th General Election.
Some Conservative members wanted Greg Clark (below) to be dropped after he lost his membership of the Conservative party in parliament following Mr Clark’s decision to support the opposition parties over the so-called Benn Act. The Benn Act was passed in September and scuppered Boris Johnson’s plan to leave the EU with or without a deal at the end of October.
But Mr Clark was brought back into the party in the Commons in the last week which meant he was eligible to stand again as the local Conservative candidate.
He was endorsed at a meeting of the Tunbridge Wells Constituency Conservatives last night (Tuesday).
The Chairman of the local Conservative party, Joe Simmons, told Southborough News this morning that Greg Clark’s reselection was now “a done deal”.
Mr Clark is understood to have given assurances to local party members last night that he would fully support Boris Johnson’s election manifesto, with members concluding that “what is the past is in the past”.
But in the coming weeks, Brexit enthusiasts in Tunbridge Wells are likely to look for assurances that that Mr Clark’s support for the leadership’s policy would continue if he is re-elected and if the Conservatives take the UK out of the EU in January but UK-EU trade talks fail to come up with a tariff free agreement by December 2020 (after the transition), so risking a so-called “no deal” type departure again.
Mr Clark is known to believe in close EU-UK alignment of rules post-Brexit.
In a tweet published overnight, Greg Clark said it had been the the privilege and honour of his life to represent Tunbridge Wells since 2005 and he was extremely grateful to his Conservative Association for choosing him again as their candidate.
At the recent European elections in May the Conservative vote in Tunbridge Wells collapsed with the party ending up fourth with only 10 per cent of the vote behind the Greens.
The Brexit Party won most votes with 32 per cent in May. But this time the Liberal Democrats are likely to feel they have a strong chance, as Brexit supporters may well divide their votes more evenly between the Conservatives and the Brexit Party.
NB UPDATE MON 11 NOV:
The Brexit Party has announced it will not be standing in any seats the Conservatives won in 2017, including Tunbridge Wells.
The Liberal Democrats came a close second in the European elections – also with 32 per cent.
The Liberal Democrat candidate for Tunbridge Wells is Ben Chapelard (above), who’s chances will have been enhanced by the withdrawal of the Green candidate thanks to a pact between the Greens and the Lib Dems.
Labour’s candidate is Antonio Weiss (pictured below) – Labour came second in 2017.
Nominations close at 4pm on 14th November.
UPDATE 14th NOVEMBER:
The deadline for nominations has passed and there are 5 candidates. There are no UKIP or Brexit party candidates. But there are two independents in addition to Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat.
The two independent candidates are Christopher Camp and Nigel Peacock, who worked for many years in the radio industry in Kent.