A member of the so-called Tory 'Turnip Taliban', who opposed the selection of Liz Truss as an MP at the dawn of her political career 15 years ago, has revealed why he now intends to stand against her at the next general election.

Former Norfolk high sheriff James Bagge has resigned from his role as one of Norfolk's deputy lieutenants to fight the former prime minister for her South West Norfolk constituency seat.

Eastern Daily Press: James BaggeJames Bagge (Image: Garlinda Birkbeck)

The 71-year-old lawyer and ex-army officer has signalled he will stand as an independent against Ms Truss, bidding to overturn her 26,000 plus majority.

Mr Bagge was one of the rebel Tories who, in 2009, called for Ms Truss to be deselected as the Conservative candidate for the seat.

Eastern Daily Press: Liz TrussLiz Truss (Image: Press Association)

And his opinion of the politician, who had the shortest spell at Downing Street of any prime minister,  has not improved since then.

He said: "I have been both disappointed and unimpressed by the lack of attention our current MP has given to the interests of the constituency here in South West Norfolk over the last 14 years and by her failure to engage in a real way with the challenges that confront its constituents."

Ms Truss had been parachuted into the constituency by the national Tory party as one of prime minister's David Cameron's A-list of priority candidates.

Eastern Daily Press: Liz Truss pictured in 2009Liz Truss pictured in 2009 (Image: Ian Burt)

This caused a split in the local party, exacerbated when members learned of her affair with Tory MP Mark Field.

While details were on the internet, there was anger, after a national paper published the information, that Conservative HQ had not already informed the local association.

It led to calls from a group including Mr Bagge and his brother Sir Jeremy Bagge, dubbed the 'Turnip Taliban' by national commentators, for her de-selection.

But she was then backed by a considerable 132-37 margin and the following year, won the South West Norfolk seat she has held ever since.

READ MORE: South West Norfolk Tory chairman David Hills made an MBE

West Norfolk-born and based Mr Bagge joked about the Turnip Taliban tag and the Daily Star's story about a lettuce lasting longer then Ms Truss did as prime minister, saying: "A turnip has deeper roots than a lettuce."

Mr Bagge said he has already started holding public meetings to test the appetite for his candidacy - the first of which was attended by 20 people.

He said: "I am seeking people’s views on their expectations of their MP, whether these are being met currently, and whether they would like to be offered the choice of an independent and fully committed candidate at the next election.

"The first of my public meetings, dealing with a range of local and national topics including immigration and the Rwanda scheme, health and social care, education – school exclusions are a huge problem in the area – and Brexit, encourages me to believe that I can confidently offer myself to constituents as their representative in Westminster.

"I am someone who would be dedicated to addressing their issues at all levels of government, both local and national.

"With the necessary level of support, I will stand as an independent and, instead of constantly being whipped through the lobby at Westminster, will use my time as best suits my constituents’ interests.

"I will be free to speak and free to act. I will focus on matters that impact most directly on our lives, and on government policies and decisions that affect our local Norfolk community.”

Mr Bagge is aware of the challenge he would face in standing as an independent in a constituency which has been in Conservative hands since 1964.

Eastern Daily Press: James BaggeJames Bagge (Image: Garlinda Birkbeck)

Ms Truss has increased her majority each year since she was first elected in 2010.

In the last general election, in 2019, she took 69pc of the vote. Her 35,507 votes were well clear of the 9,312 garnered by Labour's Emily Blake, with her majority up from 2017's 18,312  to 26,195.

However, it remains to be seen whether the opinions of voters will have changed since Ms Truss's stint as prime minister.

Her spell as prime minister saw her resign after just 44 days in office - the shortest premiership in British history.

During her spell at 10 Downing Street, the pound tumbled, while government borrowing costs soared.

Eastern Daily Press: Liz TrussLiz Truss (Image: PA Wire/PA Images)

She sacked her chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng following a disastrous mini-budget, but, in recent interviews, Ms Truss has said she still believed her approach to driving growth was the right one.

A spokesman for Ms Truss said she would not be commenting on Mr Bagge's intention to stand against her.

Who is James Bagge?

Mr Bagge served in the army for four years from 1972 to 1976 in Cyprus, Northern Ireland, mainland UK, and in Australia as aide to Sir Mark Oliphant, governor of South Australia.

He qualified as a barrister in 1979, worked for three years at the Serious Fraud Office and became a partner at the international firm Norton Rose Fulbright.

He worked as a consultant for the Central Bank of Ireland for five years.

He co-founded and is the executive chairman of Bvalco, a consultancy specialising in reviews of the effectiveness of the boards of public companies.

He was appointed high sheriff of Norfolk in 2017 and as a deputy lieutenant in 2020.

His father, the late Sir John Bagge and his older brother, Sir Jeremy Bagge, are both former county high sheriffs, with an ancestral home at Stradsett Hall, near Downham Market.

Eastern Daily Press: Stradsett HallStradsett Hall (Image: Ian Burt)

Mr Bagge served as a volunteer adviser for Norfolk Citizens Advice and is chair of the charity's development committee.

He walked over 1,500 miles to Santiago di Compostela, and then organised further charity walks in Norfolk to raise more than £130,000 for unpaid carers and other Norfolk charities.

He is also a patron of the Open Road charity in King's Lynn and chair of the trustees of the Swan Youth Project in Downham Market.