Tory Candidate Named As Campaign Begins…

Rother councillor Sally-Ann Hart has been selected by the Hastings & Rye Conservative Association to represent them in the general election scheduled for 12th December. She replaces outgoing MP Amber Rudd, who lost the Conservative whip after resigning from Boris Johnson’s cabinet in September and will not be standing for re-election. 

The selection took place last Friday at Claremont School when party members met to hear pitches from three “finalists” in the candidacy process – Cllr Hart; Tim Clark, living in Ashford but employed as the principal of Skinners’ Academy in Hackney; and Stephen Bates, a business entrepreneur in food and hospitality with strong links to Europe. 

Mr Bates admitted that he had voted Remain in the 2016 referendum, though he was now committed to “getting Brexit done”. Cllr Hart and Mr Clark confirmed themselves as strong Brexiteers. Cllr Hart won a substantial majority on a second ballot.

The stage is thus set for a three-way contest in the constituency next month over the issue of Brexit, with each candidate clearly following respective party lines: Cllr Hart seeking to push through Boris Johnson’s leave deal; Nick Perry, the Liberal Democrat, committed to revoke Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (without a referendum in the unlikely event of gaining overall power); and Cllr Peter Chowney, for Labour, adopting Jeremy Corbyn’s policy to seek further negotiation with the EU, with any resulting revised deal to be put to a second referendum.

Brexit is far from the only issue of course, with Labour in particular keen to highlight the effects of almost a decade of “austerity”, presided over by the Tories (in coalition with the Lib Dems until 2015) on the economic and social fabric of the town, and promising an agenda of radical change, including huge investment in green industries. How this plays out locally remains to be seen.

For those unimpressed by mainstream politics, there is also a fourth candidate, Independent Paul Crosland, who wants to pause 5G, enhance community care and cohesion, and promote a low carbon economy. He says his target is only 365 votes, but as Ms Rudd’s margin last time was 346, that’s not to be ignored.

For a profile of Cllr Hart click here and further discussion of Mr Crosland’s intervention, click here

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