EDP man to quiz Tory hopefuls

IAN CLARKE The final stage of the long-running process to find a Conservative candidate for the new Mid Norfolk parliamentary seat will be reached this Saturday.

IAN CLARKE

The final stage of the long-running process to find a Conservative candidate for the new Mid Norfolk parlia-mentary seat will be reached tomorrow.

Norwich-born barrister James Tumbridge will be up against A-list candidates George Freeman, Kit Malthouse, Priti Patel and Vicky Ford at a special general meeting of the local Tory association at Dereham Conservative Club.

Up to 150 party members are expected to attend and each of the five will be interviewed during the meeting by EDP political editor Chris Fisher.

He said: "The Mid Norfolk Conservatives decided they wanted a politically independent person to interview the remaining five contenders, and invited me to do it. My acceptance reflects my view that the openness they are showing in their selection process should be applauded and encouraged.

"If a local constituency, Labour or Liberal Democrat party, sent me a similar invitation, I would be happy to accept that too. This says nothing about my political preferences or the EDP's."

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South West Norfolk constituency agent Ian Sherwood - who has overseen the process - said: "We wanted an independent person to do the interviews and we are pleased that Chris has accepted."

Each qualifying party member will vote for their preferred candidate. The winner will need at least 50pc of votes.

If an overall winner is not initially declared, further rounds of voting will take place.

The process to find the candidate has had a series of twists and turns with a number of potential candidates pulling out and a debate over local candidates versus A-listers.

Mr Sherwood said: "I am pleased with the process and it is better than the old system and we have been very open. The local members have controlled the process all the way through."