The final selection meeting in the new constituency of Chester South and Eddisbury has been postponed indefinitely following a complaint by one of the final three short-listed candidates about another.
A local source informs ConservativeHome that Keiran Mullan, the incumbent MP for Crewe and Nantwich, has complained that Adam Wordsworth has apparently written a letter to a local supporter describing Mullan as “parachuted in” to the constituency. The new constituency contains 5.6 per cent of Mullan’s current seat, so he is placed on the final three due to his “incumbency rights”. There are also allegations surrounding the misuse of local resources and data.
CCHQ has reportedly told Wordsworth – a former police officer, local councillor, and candidate in Weaver Vale in 2019 – that he can either withdraw, or find himself removed from the candidates’ list. Nonetheless, for the time being, Mullan’s complaint is being investigated, with a pledge that the selection will be held “as soon as possible”.
Local members are “up in arms” and “furious” at CCHQ’s intervention. ConservativeHome has been told that Wordsworth “came top in the selection panel” and is the “popular choice locally”. There is, therefore, some local suggestion that Mullan is aiming to hobble the chances of his biggest rival, or that CCHQ is aiming to weigh the contest in his favour.
One member told me that this was “another CCHQ obstruction” in a “difficult selection” and that other members had suggested they would be willing to resign. The reserve candidate is Aphra Brandreth, who was “impressive” at the previous selection meeting, but many members would like “the whole process to be repeated from scratch” if they cannot have the “standout candidate”.
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