THE Conservatives have launched a fresh inquiry into the de-selection of North Yorkshire MP Anne McIntosh after her supporters and opponents each accused the other side of more dirty tricks in the run-up to last week’s vote.
Miss McIntosh claimed yesterday she was the victim of “ungentlemanly conduct” during the de-selection campaign in Thirsk and Malton, and said she was “delighted” an inquiry has now been launched at “the highest ranks” of the Conservative Party.
The Conservatives confirmed they have received complaints from both sides in the long-running Thirsk and Malton dispute, and another internal inquiry will now be held - although sources stressed it is “highly unlikely” the outcome could change the result of Miss McIntosh’s de-selection.
“I am obviously disappointed at the outcome of the ballot, which does seem to be the result of some ungentlemanly behaviour which has brought great discredit to the Conservative Party, “ Miss McIntosh said.
“I’m delighted this is now going to be looked into... by the highest ranks of the Conservative Party.”
The inquiry will be the second held into Thirsk and Malton Conservative Association, following complaints last year that local officials co-opted a large number of new members on to a key decision-making committee shortly before the crunch vote on whether to readopt Miss McIntosh as the local Conservative candidate.
The complaints this time are understood to relate to the conduct of both sides during the fierce campaign, ahead of last month’s ballot of all 560 members of Thirsk and Malton Conservatives.
Miss McIntosh said their decision to de-select her had come as a “great surprise”, and she was keeping her options open regarding what she does next.
The MP indicated last week she still “intends” to put herself forward as a candidate in Thirsk and Malton next year, and has now made clear she is still hopeful of winning back the Conservative nomination when the local party selects its new candidate.
“The ballot was a great surprise to everybody, “ she said. “I am still on the (Conservative) candidates’ list, I can apply for any seat including Thirsk and Malton.
“I think one way forward would be to have an open primary, and let the residents of Thirsk and Malton decide.”
The long-serving Tory MP has still not ruled out standing as an independent, however.
“I’m not going to give a running commentary, “ she said. “I’m keeping an open mind.”