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'How can they look after the country?' - Tory members angry over missing leadership ballot papers

Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

From kipper waving to Brexit bust-ups the Conservative leadership race was never going to be short of controversy.

Beverley Blake, from Diss, whose ballot paper for the Tory leadership election did not arrive. Photo: Beverley BlakeBeverley Blake, from Diss, whose ballot paper for the Tory leadership election did not arrive. Photo: Beverley Blake

And with two of the region's MPs tipped for new cabinet jobs, the party chairman based in the county, and anger over ballot papers which have not arrived, Norfolk has been at the heart of the race.

With much of the county decidedly true blue - save a pocket of yellow on the coast and red in Norwich - Conservative members in Norfolk had a strong voice in the race.

Some 10pc of the 165,000 Tory members live in the east of England and two hustings were held for them during the competition.

But not everyone was satisfied and one of those left feeling let down was Beverley Blake, from Diss, whose ballot paper to vote in the leadership fight never arrived.

Great Yarmouth MP and party chairman Brandon Lewis admitted on Chopper's Brexit Podcast, presented by the Telegraph's Christopher Hope, that there had been some issues in getting ballot papers to members.

He said "hundreds of people" had complained but teams had been working around the clock to get ballot papers out.

Problems included local associations not updating memberships, even if direct debits were in place, people not realising their direct debits had ceased, or data inputters getting digits wrong.

Mr Lewis said: "The reality is with 165,000 I'm sure there will be the odd person who feels they should have had a vote who we've not been able to deal with."

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But Miss Blake, 58, said: "I'm really fed up with all of it. As far as I'm aware I've been a member for donkeys years, paid my subscription, and I've sent the chairman a complaint. I've delivered thousands of leaflets for them. I can do all that and they can't get their fingers out and deliver a ballot paper."

Miss Blake said she complained to Conservative Campaign HQ (CCHQ), but was told she was not down as a member despite having bank statements showing her payments being made.

She said: "If they can't look after the members, how can they look after the country?"

Miss Blake, who has been a Tory party member for more than 20 years, said she would have voted for Jeremy Hunt, had she got the chance.

CCHQ was approached for comment.

Could two Norfolk MPs make Boris Johnson's cabinet?

Two of the region's MPs could be set for new cabinet jobs if Boris Johnson wins the leadership race.

Although Liz Truss, MP for South West Norfolk, and Matt Hancock, MP for West Suffolk, both already hold cabinet positions they will be expecting to be rewarded for their intense support for Mr Johnson if he is made leader later on today.

The announcement is expected late on Tuesday morning and will mean the new prime minister would take up office on Wednesday.

Ms Truss had initially been tipped as the next chancellor, and she would be the first woman to hold the role. She had been making the biggest public pitch. However, it has since been predicted that job could go to Sajid Javid, Amber Rudd, or Mr Hancock. Ms Truss has also been tipped as business secretary.

If Mr Johnson decides Mr Hancock deserves a promotion, he could move him to the Home Office - or leave him where he is as health secretary.

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