William Hague gave his valedictory speech to conference the other day, reminding us that he will soon be pursuing life outside the Commons.
The search for his successor in Richmond is underway – the applicants have been sifted and the longlist compiled.
So far we know the names of nine of the longlisted candidates – we’ll bring you any others as and when we learn them (and if you’re one, do get in touch).
This Saturday the candidates will face a canvassing assessment in the constituency, followed by interviews on 11th October and then the final four will compete in a traditional Association selection meeting on the 18th.
In no particular order, the nine we have learned of so far are:
- Cllr Christine Emmett. A businesswoman and Rutland County Councillor, Emmett will be recognisable to many readers as the Conservative candidate in the Corby and East Northamptonshire by-election. Playing on a sticky wicket after the departure of Louise Mensch, the campaign was lost but she was generally viewed as acquitting herself well in difficult circumstances. She also sits on the committee of Jesse Norman MP’s Conservative Co-Operative Movement.
- Nick Timothy. Formerly Deputy Head of the Conservative Research Department, Timothy is now Chief of Staff and speechwriter to Theresa May, and since 2010 has served as part of the team that has helped her not just survive a job that was once viewed as a poisoned chalice, but prosper in the post. Born and brought up in Birmingham, he’s a long-standing fan of Joseph Chamberlain.
- Wendy Morton. Formerly chairman of the Richmond Association, Morton stepped down in order to apply for the seat. She stood for the marginal seat of Tynemouth at the 2010 General Election, when the Conservative vote share in the seat fell by 2.2 percentage points. She runs an electronics company with her husband.
- Stephen Parkinson. Like Timothy, Parkinson is also a SpAd to the Home Secretary – where he is well thought of for combining policy experience with political nous. An experienced campaigner, he helped to deliver the victorious No vote in the AV referendum. Born and brought up on Tyneside, in 2010 he fought Newcastle North, increasing the Conservative vote share by 3.4 percentage points.
- Rishi Sunak. A businessman who co-founded a large multinational investment firm and now invests in small and fast growing British businesses, Sunak is also a Governor of the East London Science School and runs Policy Exchange’s BME Research Unit. He went to Oxford and did an MBA at Stanford University, where he was a Fulbright Scholar.
- Julie Iles. A former magistrate, Iles spent much of her career working in the software industry. Born and raised in Lancashire, in 2012 she was the Conservative candidate for Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner, where she won the first round but was defeated on second preferences.
- Cllr Edward Legard. A former soldier turned barrister and judge, Scarborough-born Legard is a district councillor in Ryedale. In 2010 he stood in Darlington, where he increased the Conservative vote share by 5.5 percentage points.
- David Skelton. A County Durham lad, Skelton is a former Deputy Director of Policy Exchange. Last year he founded Renewal, an organisation exploring the key question of how to restore Conservative prospects in the North of England. He stood in North Durham in 2010, where he increased the Conservative vote share by 4.3 percentage points, taking second place from the Lib Dems.
- Helen Harrison. Hailing from East Northamptonshire, Harrison is a physiotherapist and an elected governor of a local hospital foundation trust. She is also the East Midlands Co-ordinator of the Conservative Policy Forum.