Tim Montgomerie at 10.15am: Lots of comments are suggesting that CCHQ should intervene to stop Julie Kirkbride standing. The reality is that CCHQ have enabled her to pursue her change of heart. They have delayed and delayed starting the Bromsgrove application in order to accommodate Ms Kirkbride's belief that - with time - local voters would be more forgiving towards her than at the height of the expenses crisis. The consensus in Westminster is that David Cameron promised to try and save Julie Kirkbride's career at the time he forced her husband Andrew MacKay to step down. He was unable to do so because of the strength of public feeling at the time. Some senior Tories have always hoped, however, that Legg would find Ms Kirkbride guilty so that the leadership would not have to wield the knife against her. Nonetheless, the theory from some in CCHQ is that if Ms Kirkbride wins an all-postal ballot of constituents she is safe from an independent, Rantzen/Bell-style candidate at the General Election.
But one question: Will CCHQ pay the £40,000 cost of an all postal ballot or has Ms Kirkbride found a special donor?
ConservativeHome has learnt that a special meeting of the Executive Council of Bromsgrove Conservative Association took place last night at which sitting MP Julie Kirkbride officially made clear her desire to be considered as their candidate for the next general election.
This comes despite her statement in a letter to David Cameron on May 28th that she "will not seek re-election for my Bromsgrove constituency" after becoming embroiled in the MPs' expenses scandal in relation to her housing claims.
We have previously reported how some in her local party were keen that she rescind her resignation, although there is concern both at party HQ and within sections of the Bromsgrove association about the potential negative impact of a Kirkbride candidacy - both for Bromsgrove and for Conservative candidates in nearby marginals.
My understanding now is that CCHQ expects Bromsgrove Conservatives to hold an all-postal Open Primary to select their candidate for the general election and that Ms Kirkbride told her Executive that "if cleared by the Legg Inquiry" (whatever that means precisely), she would like to be considered as a candidate in such a process.
Presumably the final decision as to whether she could be considered as a candidate would rest with whether she was deemed by CCHQ to be on the party's approved list of candidates.
Last month Dr Philip Lee was selected as successor as Tory PPC for Bracknell, the constituency being vacated by her husband, Andrew Mackay.