We’re into the last couple of days of candidate selections now; nominations legally close on Thursday, so it’s getting tight. Today there are the final six selections in Conservative-held seats (unless members in Burton vote tonight not to readopt their MP, in which case there’ll be a selection meeting tomorrow).
ConservativeHome has so far confirmed the shortlists for four of them:
Arundel and South Downs (Conservative majority: 23,883)
- Ruth Porter. Currently Head of Government Relations for the London Stock Exchange, Porter was previously a Special Adviser between 2014 and 2017, working for Liz Truss at DEFRA, then Chris Grayling when he was Leader of the House, before returning to Truss at the Ministry of Justice. Prior to Whitehall she spent several years working for think-tanks – first for the Maxim Institute in New Zealand, then as Communications Director for the Institute of Economic Affairs, and finally as Head of Economic and Social Policy at Policy Exchange.
- Andrew Griffith. Not to be confused with the MP for Burton (Andrew Griffiths), Griffith has been Boris Johnson’s Chief Business Adviser in Downing Street since July. Before that he spent 20 years in senior roles at Sky, including eight years as Chief Financial Officer and three as Chief Operating Officer. He contested Corby at the 2001 and 2005 General Elections, and his house was reportedly used as the base for Team Johnson to plan their first 100 days in power.
An unknown third candidate. Originally Alicia Kearns was shortlisted here, but she was selected in Rutland and Melton on Friday, leaving a vacancy.
- Sue Beeby. Formerly SpAd to Jeremy Hunt at DCMS and the Department of Health, and then to George Osborne at the Treasury, Beeby cut her political teeth as a CCHQ press officer and now works in PR for Lexington Communications. From 2017 to March 2019 she was Head of External Communications for HS2 Ltd, a role she left to become director of Hunt’s leadership campaign.
North Devon (Conservative majority: 4,332)
- Cllr Andrea Davis: A Devon County Councillor since 2005 – where she holds the Cabinet portfolio for Infrastructure, Development and Waste – Cllr Davis is also a North Devon District Councillor. She sits on the Exmoor National Park Authority and is a trustee of Devon Historic Buildings Trust.
- Cllr Selaine Saxby: Also a North Devon District Councillor, much of Saxby’s career has been spent in business – she founded and ran for 16 years the UK’s leading independent sports bra retailer, and currently works as a business consultant. Between the two, she was Chief of Staff to Ben Howlett when he was MP for Bath 2015-17. Saxby contested Llanelli in the 2015 General Election.
- Annabel Roberts: A former West Devon Borough Councillor, Roberts also serves as Deputy Chair (Political) of Torridge and West Devon Conservatives Association. She has also worked as a freelance journalist.
North West Norfolk (Conservative majority: 13,788)
- Clare Pelham: Pelham is the Chief Executive of the Epilepsy Society, prior to which she spent five years as Chief Executive of Leonard Cheshire, the charity supporting disabled people. Her career has included the civil service – eg as Chief Executive of the Judicial Appointments Commission – and the private sector, including a role as Director of Active Lifestyles for Coca Cola GB. She was a finalist in Rutland and Melton on Friday.
- Lisa Townsend: Currently Head of Public Affairs at Octopus Group, Townsend previously worked in Parliament for James Morris. She is a Beaver Scout leader, and Corporate Director of the Big Tent Ideas Festival, founded by George Freeman. She contested Norwich South in 2015.
- James Wild: After starting his career in public affairs, Wild was a Special Adviser to Michael Fallon from 2012 to 2017, in BIS, DECC and the Ministry of Defence. He returned to Whitehall in March 2018 as SpAd to David Lidington, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Since July of this year he has been a Special Adviser to the Prime Minister, effectively as Deputy Chief of Staff. He is married to Baroness Evans, Leader of the House of Lords
Wantage (Conservative majority: 17,380)
- Annabelle Eyre: A solicitor by training, Eyre has for the last three years been Senior Special Adviser to the Leader of the House of Lords. She previously served as a SpAd to Iain Duncan Smith when he was Work and Pensions Secretary, having been Head of Planning at CCHQ during IDS’s time as Conservative leader.
- David Johnston: The outgoing Chief Executive of the Social Mobility Foundation, which he led for a decade, Johnston is also a former member of Parliament’s Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission. He has also served as a director of Future Academies, an educational charity and multi-academy trust. He recently wrote for ConservativeHome on the topic of social mobility.
- Cllr Henry Newman: A past columnist for ConservativeHome, and former Director of the think tank Open Europe, Newman is currently Senior Brexit Adviser to Michael Gove at the Cabinet Office, having also advised Gove at the Ministry of Justice. He worked for Vote Leave during the EU referendum, and contested North Tyneside in the 2017 General Election. He is also a councillor in Camden, and before working in Westminster taught politics and history at various universities. He was a finalist in Mid Sussex.
The two remaining selection meetings for which I am yet to confirm the shortlists are:
Meon Valley (Conservative majority: 25,692)
Runnymede and Weybridge (Conservative majority: 18,050)