Senior Tory MP Damian Green rejected as candidate in next general election
Senior Tory MP Damian Green has been rejected as the candidate for the newly created Weald of Kent constituency.
The move has fuelled speculation that grassroots Tory campaigners are targeting parliamentarians seen as responsible for Boris Johnson's departure from No 10.
Mr Green was effectively deputy prime minister under Theresa May until she sacked him in 2017 after an investigation into claims that pornographic material was found on his Commons computer.
An MP for Ashford since 1997, he currently chairs the One Nation caucus of centrist Conservative MPs and has been critical of Mr Johnson.
He tweeted: "I am disappointed not to have been adopted as the Conservative candidate for the new Weald of Kent seat.
"I am now thinking about what to do next and how I can best continue to work for the people of Ashford and support the government."
Mr Green was one of the more than 140 Conservative MPs who voted to say they had no confidence in Mr Johnson last June - blaming anger among his constituents about partygate.
David Campbell Bannerman, chairman of the Conservative Democratic Organisation (CDO), suggested his role in Mr Johnson's downfall paved the way for the rejection.
Tweeting a report about Mr Green, he said: "There is now hard evidence MPs allegedly associated with bringing down Boris are being directly held to account and punished by members."
The CDO, led by Brexiteers and Johnson loyalists, takes issue with Rishi Sunak's elevation to Number 10 without a membership vote.
The organisation tweeted: "There are 60 MPs who are probably getting worried. It's hard to see how those who stabbed Boris in the back will ever be forgiven by the members…"
But its vice-president Lord Greenhalgh denied the decision was linked to Mr Johnson.
The Tory peer said: "This had nothing to do with Boris Johnson but more to do with a system of selection/deselection of MPs that needs fundamental reform."
He said that is what the CDO "stands for", adding: "Damian Green has been a force for good for decades."
Mr Green, who is acting chairman of the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, was rejected by the local executive.
He could still put his name forward as the selection of an MP goes to the wider constituency membership.
Mr Green was sacked as a minister in 2017 after allegations about pornography on his parliamentary computers.
The MPs who have announced they are standing down at the next general election
He breached the ministerial code by making "inaccurate and misleading statements" suggesting he was unaware of any indecent material.
In his resignation letter Mr Green said that while he "did not download or view pornography on my parliamentary computers" he "should have been clear in my press statements that police lawyers talked to my lawyers" about it in 2008 and then raised it in a subsequent phone call in 2013.