Malcolm Rifkind, current MP for Kensington & Chelsea, was tonight chosen to represent the new seat of Kensington, which has a projected majority of over 5000. Greg Hands is taking on the Chelsea part of his current constituency.
ConservativeHome has learnt that the new seat of Kensington is likely to adopt Sir Malcolm Rifkind as its candidate on 18th December. There had been some concern in CCHQ that Sir Malcolm would seek the safer seat of Chelsea and Fulham and there would be a difficult battle with Greg Hands (the current MP for Hammersmith and Fulham). Sir Malcolm wisely decided not to risk a confrontation with Greg Hands because of the H&F MP's high standing. Greg Hands is widely credited with helping to mastermind the renaissance of Conservatism in H&F. At recent parliamentary and borough elections the Tory vote has risen markedly on the back of strong messages on lower taxation and a tough approach to crime.
It is the right of a boundary-affected sitting MP to face a closed selection meeting if he or she represents at least 50% of the new seat. Any MP with any voters in a new seat can also claim to be part of that closed selection meeting (where no outside candidates are invited to participate) and that was the procedure that led to last weekend's Anne McIntosh versus John Greenway contest. Once Kensingston and Chelsea and Fulham have confirmed their candidate choices nominations will open for Hammersmith. A number of H&F councillors are likely to apply. A leading candidate will be former CF Chairman Paul Bristow. More on the seats below.