Prior fails in Tory shortlist bid

CHRIS FISHER, EDP Political Editor Local health chief and former North Norfolk Tory MP David Prior has been rejected by Conservatives for a second time in a bid to resume his political career.

CHRIS FISHER, EDP Political Editor

Local health chief and former North Norfolk Tory MP David Prior has been rejected by Conservatives for a second time in a bid to resume his political career.

The chairman of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital Trust has failed to get on the Tory candidates' shortlist for the new Mid-Norfolk constituency ahead of the selection of a prospective parliamentary candidate later this month.

Two years ago he similarly failed to be shortlisted by SW Norfolk Tories in succession to Baroness (Gillian) Shephard.

Mr Prior has suffered these setbacks - which may spell the end of his political ambitions - despite representing North Norfolk in the Commons in 1997-2001 and his high-profile hospital position.

He declined to comment yesterday. But it is thought his defeat by Norman Lamb for the Liberal Democrats in North Norfolk may still be held against him even though he raised the Tory share of the vote by six percentage points in that contest.

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Twenty names are on the Tories' shortlist for the new Mid-Norfolk, which will include about a third of the current seat of the same name represented by Conservative frontbencher Keith Simpson. He has already been chosen as the prospective candidate for the new Broadland seat, which will have about two-thirds of his present constituency.

The boundary changes are a consequence of Norfolk acquiring a ninth seat at Westminster at the next general election.

Two of the people left are "local candidates" and one of them lives in Norfolk. The other 18 are from the priority "A-list" set up by Mr Cameron to try to ensure that Tory parliamentary candidates are more representative of British society. They are said to include one or two names well-known in political circles.

The candidate for the new Mid-Norfolk will be chosen on October 21, and before then ordinary party members and also non-members who are supporters will be brought into a wider selection process. The shortlisting was done by local party officers.