Tories still need to find 150 candidates following MP exodus

James Cleverly
James Cleverly: 'We've got a terrific pool of candidates' - TAYFUN SALCI/SHUTTERSTOCK

The Conservative Party still have to find candidates to stand in around 150 constituencies, the party admitted.

A source said the party had candidates in place in three-quarters of the seats in Great Britain. That would mean it had only filled 474 seats – leaving 158 to be found. The party does not usually field candidates in Northern Ireland.

The deadline for candidates to be nominated is June 7, meaning the party has less than a fortnight to fill all the vacancies.

The task has been made harder because a large number of Tories have recently announced they will not be standing at the election.

The number of Tory MPs standing down has now surpassed the Conservative Party record set in 1997, when 75 stood down.

78 Tories have so far announced that they will leave parliament at this election.

The most senior of these was Michael Gove, who made his announcement on Friday evening.

A Tory source said: “The Conservative Party is well-prepared, with three-quarters of seats already selected with excellent Conservative candidates.”

‘Nothing particularly unusual’

James Cleverly, the Home Secretary, was asked about the large number of candidates who have not yet been chosen on Sky News on Sunday morning.

He said: “The selection process has been going on. There will be lots of places where the selections were just on the verge of happening.

“I’ve been chairman of the party, you always have to do selections right up until the last minute. There is nothing particularly unusual about that.

“We’ve got plenty that we need to select. We’ve got a terrific pool of candidates.”

Asked why the Prime Minister had called the general election without having selected all its candidates, Mr Cleverly said: “The reason we’ve called the election now is that we’ve seen inflation return to normal levels, we’ve seen the economic indicators heading in the right direction. We’re in a position now where we can show our plan is working…

“There are always going to be pros and cons for any timing of an election. I’d much rather be campaigning in the early spring than the late autumn.

“But we are ready to make what is a bold move because we are confident of our offer to the British people.”