David Mackintosh has become the latest Conservative MP to announce that he is leaving Parliament – though perhaps not as willingly as various of his retiring colleagues.
The Northampton South MP, first elected in 2015, had been facing an attempt by local Conservative Party members to deselect him at a meeting early next week. As the BBC has reported, Mackintosh had become embroiled in allegations over a multi-million-pound loan, given by the council which he previously led to Northampton Town Football Club.
Speaking in recent days to sources locally, I was struck by quite how strongly and personally some local activists were willing to criticise the MP. His announcement that he won’t be seeking to stand again – coming a few days after he expressed his intention to seek reselection, and a few days before the crunch vote – implies that he knew that deep-seated opposition wasn’t going away.
More broadly, in an election in which CCHQ’s central influence over selections is greater than ever, due to the constrained timetable and special rules, this is a rare reminder that Conservative Associations remain powerful and sovereign beasts.
We’ll find out soon who is being shortlisted to replace him as Conservative candidate for Northampton South, and will bring you the news when we hear it. The Conservative majority there in 2015 was 3,793 votes.