South Cambridgeshire is one of the three seats held by MPs who left the Conservative Party to join The Independent Group, then Change UK-TIG. Heidi Allen was even leader of CHUK-TIG, before leaving her new new party to sit as an independent (though today’s press claims she is now acting as a link person between big Remain donors and the Liberal Democrats).

We don’t know yet if Allen intends to seek re-election – and if she did so, the question of which party she might be a member of at the time of the next election is a prediction I will leave to those with psychic powers.

Whatever Allen’s plans for herself, due to her departure the local Conservative association is now searching for her successor, presumably in the hope of finding somebody a little more consistent.

A longlist of eight candidates faced interviews on Saturday, and there is now a confirmed shortlist of three, plus one reserve (available in case anyone becomes unavailable between now and the selection meeting.

The three finalists are:

  • Anthony Browne: A journalist for almost 15 years, Browne reported on topics ranging from economics and business to EU enlargement for The Observer, then the BBC and ultimately The Times. In 2007 he became Director of Policy Exchange, before moving 18 months later to become Head of Policy for Boris Johnson shortly after his election as London Mayor, with particular responsibility for economic and business policy. From 2012-2017 he was Chief Executive of the British Bankers Association. His past ConservativeHome articles can be found here and here.
  • Cllr Anna Firth: Cllr Firth is Cabinet member for Legal and Democratic Services on Sevenoaks District Council, and a former barrister. She contested the Erith and Thamesmead constituency in the 2015 General Election, was Co-Chair of Vote Leave’s Women for Britain, and is currently Chairman of Sevenoaks Conservative Association. Her charitable work includes serving as a trustee of West Kent Mind, a mental health charity. Her past ConservativeHome articles can be found here.
  • John Hayward: The Manager of the Conservative Policy Forum since 2016, Hayward also works with the Westminster Foundation For Democracy, which helps to promote stable institutions in emerging democracies. He contested Cambridge for the Conservative Party in the 2017 General Election, and has a PhD in Genetics from Cambridge University. Haywood worked in international development for several years before becoming Executive Director of the Jubilee Centre from 2008-2011. His past ConservativeHome articles can be found here

The reserve for the contest is Alex Deane – formerly a barrister, Chief of Staff to David Cameron, and Director of Big Brother Watch, and now Senior Managing Director of public affairs firm FTI Consulting. He completes the set, making the contest entirely between people who have written for ConservativeHome.