Would-be MP in 8000-mile dash

A would-be MP ended up on a marathon 8,000-mile transatlantic trip after getting a last-minute call-up to be considered to contest a Norfolk parliamentary seat.

A would-be MP ended up on a marathon 8,000-mile transatlantic trip after getting a last-minute call-up to be considered to contest a Norfolk parliamentary seat.

Norwich-born barrister James Tumbridge, 27, was only hours into his holiday in Canada yesterday when he learnt he had been chosen as a potential Conservative candidate for the new Mid Norfolk constituency.

Still groggy with jet lag he headed back to the airport, for a gruelling six-hour return trip to make it back for today's selection meeting in Dereham.

Speaking ahead of his flight yesterday, he said: “I have just arrived in Canada to hear I am to be put forward in Mid Norfolk on Saturday so I have just bought a ticket and will be heading to the airport in a few hours. If nothing else I hope my willingness to cancel my trip and fly straight back at some cost shows how much Norfolk means to me.”

Described as “dashing” and as having “baby-faced charm” on internet profiles, the unlucky lawyer - who stood for the Norwich North seat in 2005 - last year complained to the EDP about his lack of time off saying: “Holiday? Wouldn't I love one.”

Mr Tumbridge and property investor John Flack were selected to stand alongside nine of David Cameron's “A-list” candidates - including former soap actor Adam Rickitt and “chick lit” novelist Louise Bagshaw - to be considered as Conservative candidate for the seat.

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The pair, who received an equal number of votes from a selection panel, were chosen to replace another shortlisted hopeful, journalist Annunziata Rees-Mogg who has been selected as the Conservative candidate for the seat of Somerton and Frome in Somerset.

Mr Tumbridge specialises in intellectual property law, working in courts in England, Canada and the United States.

He was born in Norwich and took his GCSEs and A-levels at Norwich School.

In the past Mr Tumbridge has pledged his commitment to dualling the county's major A-roads, improving local public transport and infrastructure and getting the Northern Distributor Road built.

Mr Flack lives in Essex but runs a property investment business from Felthorpe, near Norwich, which leases properties across East Anglia, and also served on the board of the Anglia Housing Group.

He has been involved in a range of leadership positions in the Conservative party for 30 years, serving as the co-ordinating chairman of the Eastern Region for the Conservatives, and lost the seat of Enfield South to Labour in the 2001 general election.

Mr Flack said if elected he would fight hard for dualling the A47, improving local infrastructure and pushing for more community policing - identifying Watton and Dereham as trouble hotspots.

South West Norfolk Conservative agent Ian Sherwood, who has overseen the selection process, said: “I think we have got an extremely strong list of candidates - there really is very good representation both from local and A-list.”

At today's selection meeting at Northgate High School in Dereham party supporters and members will quiz the 11 candidates before members vote for their favourite four.

The final candidate will be chosen at a special general meeting at Dereham and District Conservative Club on Saturday, October 21.