07 June 2024

Tories fail to field candidate in Rotherham amid last-minute withdrawals

07 June 2024

The Conservatives are going into the General Election without a candidate in one English constituency as stories emerged of last-minute withdrawals as nominations closed.

When the candidates were announced in the South Yorkshire constituency of Rotherham on Friday evening, the Conservatives’ Laila Cunningham was marked as “nomination withdrawn”, which leaves the party with nobody standing.

The seat has been held by Labour’s Sarah Champion since 2012, and secured a majority of 3,121 in 2019, despite the neighbouring seat of Rother Valley falling to the Tories for the first time in 100 years, as one of the party’s most surprising so-called red wall gains.

Ms Champion is standing in Rotherham again on July 4 and will be joined on the ballot paper by candidates from the Lib Dems, Reform UK, the Greens, the Yorkshire Party and the Workers Party of Great Britain – plus an independent.

Earlier, the Conservatives dropped one of their candidates hours before the nominations closed on Friday after receiving a complaint about his conduct.

Jaymey McIvor had been due to fight the Hemel Hempstead seat for the Tories in the election, but announced on Friday afternoon that he was withdrawing from the contest “for personal reasons”.

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, just 50 minutes before the 4pm deadline for submitting nominations, the Epping Forest councillor said he was “sad” to announce he was no longer a candidate.

He added: “I’m incredibly proud of my campaign and the people I’ve met along the way. Especially the members who put their faith in me.”

In a message to local members, seen by the PA news agency, Hemel Hempstead Conservative Association chairman William Wyatt-Lowe said Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) had made him and Mr McIvor aware of “an anonymous complaint” about the candidate’s “prior conduct” on Thursday.

The message said Mr McIvor had denied the allegations and refused to resign his candidacy, but his party membership had been suspended pending an investigation meaning he was not eligible to stand as the party’s candidate.

Jaymey is in full support of this investigation as he is certain it will clear his name and allow him to pursue his political ambitions in the future

The message said: “Jaymey is in full support of this investigation as he is certain it will clear his name and allow him to pursue his political ambitions in the future.”

Members have been asked to return any campaigning material with Mr McIvor’s name on it, adding: “I am sure that you will all agree with me that our thoughts must be with Jaymey and his family at this time.

“We can only imagine the pain this must be causing all of them. I am sure that Jaymey will, once able to do so, remain a close friend and supporter of Hemel Hempstead Conservative Constituency Association and I look forward to campaigning alongside him in the years to come.”

In his place, CCHQ appointed Andrew Williams, a Hertfordshire county councillor and leader of the Conservative group on Dacorum Borough Council, as the party’s candidate for Hemel Hempstead.

A spokesperson for the party said: “A matter was brought to our attention.

“Jaymey McIvor has been suspended by the party pending the outcome of an investigation. The party’s complaints process is private and confidential.”

Meanwhile, Ms Champion posted on X: “If true, I think this is appalling. Rotherham has been let down & over looked by successive Tory Governments for generations. Now they can’t even be bothered to field a candidate & give us a fair fight.”

The deadline for submitting nominations for the General Election passed at 4pm on Friday.

Local authorities can begin publishing the list of nominations from 5pm on Friday, but have until 4pm on Monday to do so in case there are any objections.

Notices published on Friday confirmed that two former Labour MPs will contest the Leicester East seat.

Both Claudia Webbe, who sat as an independent for much of the 2019 parliament following her arrest and then conviction for harassment, and her predecessor Keith Vaz, who was suspended from parliament for six months in late 2019 for breaching Commons standards rules, will stand as independents. The official Labour candidate is Rajesh Agrawal.

Former Labour candidate Faiza Shaheen is on the ballot in Chingford and Woodford Green, where she will also stand as an independent after being dropped by the Labour Party over her use of social media.

Conservative Party chairman Richard Holden has been confirmed as the party’s candidate in Basildon and Billericay, in Essex, having represented North West Durham since 2019.

Local Conservatives raised the possibility of challenging his selection, after he was the only person shortlisted for the seat by the party.

Despite rumours that the pop star Holly Vallance was seeking to challenge Mr Holden as the Reform UK candidate, the Australian singer will not be on the ballot, with the party represented by Stephen Conlay.

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