COVENTRY Conservative councillor Allan Andrews has ruled himself out of standing in the general election after becoming a father, we can reveal – while his colleague Gary Ridley is expected be interested in standing.
Before Prime Minister Theresa May announced a snap election for June 8 on Tuesday, the pair were expected next month to take over the leadership and deputy leadership of the Tory group at Coventry City Council – with the former cabinet member Coun Ridley taking over as leader from John Blundell, who will become deputy Lord Mayor.
It is understood Coun Ridley – who stood in the last two general elections in Coventry North west and Coventry South respectively – is out of the country and hard to reach.
Meanwhile, Coun Andrews has spent the last few days deliberating over whether to put himself forward for selection to stand in the 34th top Conservative target nationally of Coventry South against Labour MP Jim Cunningham, while Coventry North west (Geoffrey Robinson’s seat) is also in the top 50 in terms of necessary swings from Labour.
It is understood Conservative Central Office nationally will impose a shortlist of four or five candidates in Coventry South, may also do so in Coventry North west or impose a candidate, and will impose a candidate in the Labour safe seat of Coventry North east (held by Colleen Fletcher).
Usually, the local constituency Tory parties draw up their own shortlist – but there is little time with this year’s snap election just seven weeks away.
Coun Andrews has released the following statement to us..
“Following the announcement from the Prime Minister that an election will be held on June 8, I received a number of phone calls and emails from people asking me to stand.
“It is fair to say that this both took me by surprise and served as a humbling reminder of the honour it is to be an elected councillor in Coventry – the city I was born and raised in.
“I have been immensely proud to represent Earlsdon ward on Coventry City Council since 2008 and to be encouraged to seek the candidacy for Coventry South for the forthcoming general election has been incredibly flattering.
“The chance to represent my ward and the constituency in Parliament at a time when there is a very real prospect of gaining a seat has weighed heavily on my mind. The temptation to throw my hat into the ring has been occupying my thoughts for the past 48 hours.
“Under two weeks ago I became a dad for the first time, and many parents will understand my desire to be actively involved in those key early years of a new life. It is the best and most difficult job I will probably ever have.
“I have also recently embarked on a new career that I am enjoying and wish to commit to for the long-term.
“For these reasons, the timing for me isn’t right.
“I will wholeheartedly support the candidates our party members in Coventry select and will work tirelessly to elect a Conservative MP in Coventry.
“I very much intend to continue as a city councillor until 2020 and beyond, subject to the wishes of mypParty and the residents who I am proud to represent.”