Last night the members of the Sleaford and North Hykeham Conservative Association met to select their candidate to succeed Stephen Phillips.
The three finalists in the selection were notably all local – Kelly Smith, a former Lincolnshire County Councillor who is the Party’s Regional Chairman for the East Midlands; Lindsay Cawrey, a serving North Kesteven District Councillor and former Lincolnshire County Councillor who defected from Labour back in 2008; and Dr Caroline Johnson, a Consultant Paediatrician who lives just outside Sleaford and stood in Scunthorpe in 2010.
That local focus is notable. There were various suggestions that CCHQ might try to parachute in a well-known candidate from elsewhere, but that was evidently unfounded. In the event, any of the three had a strong local pitch to make.
The winner of the proceedings was Dr Johnson – our congratulations to her. Here’s her official statement on the result:
“I am delighted to be selected as the Conservative candidate for Sleaford and North Hykeham by local party members in Lincolnshire.
“I am looking forward to speaking to many local residents across Sleaford and North Hykeham in the coming weeks to discuss the issues that matter most to them and their families.
“As your Conservative candidate I am the only person who can support the Prime Minister and the Government to deliver Brexit. I am completely behind the Government’s plans for Brexit and to deliver on the decision made by the British people.
“Our area deserves a strong voice in Parliament and if I am elected the Member of Parliament I will always make sure residents are heard loud and clear in Westminster.”
We don’t yet know how she voted in the referendum, but it’s clear that getting on with Brexit is now the Party’s most pressing policy and that she supports it. As we noted immediately after Phillips’s resignation, the constituency voted strongly for Leave and UKIP ran Labour close for second place in 2015.