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Cameron re-opens candidates list to help fill vacant seats

Highlights, not verbatim, of David Cameron's interview with Andrew Marr:

CameronOnMarr Andrew MacKay and Julie Kirkbride: Andrew MacKay's dismissal was not connected with Friday's public meeting.  I have to deal fairly and his case was one of the more serious ones. Mr MacKay was technically within the rules but he was guilty of a serious misjudgment.  Mr Cameron declined to say whether he orded Mr MacKay to step down after a telephone conversation yesterday.  Julie Kirkbride's case is different, he says, because she genuinely lives in London and has another home in the constituency. 

Deselection: I will withdraw the whip from MPs who the scrutiny committee finds guilty of serious offences.

Timing of General Election: The public needs to be involved in clearing out the bad apples and that is why we need a General Election now.

Re-opening the candidates list: He supports primary elections and says he is today re-opening Tory candidates list for anyone from outside of politics who feels they want to become a Conservative MP.  He agrees that Conservative MPs have to be team players but like with Ken Clarke - who disagrees with party policy on Europe - there is room for difference within the Conservative Party and there should be more free votes.

Parliament is a poodle at the moment: It passes too many laws, scrutinises them badly, the whips have too much power, the select committees are chaired by executive appointments, too much power has gone to judges and Europe.

Reducing the cost of politics: We are overgoverned and will start with a 10% cut in the number of MPs to 600.  All constituencies will become more equal in size as part of a boundaries review. 

Expenses reform: We need an allowance that is simple and transparent.  Challenged on his own expenses claims he defends himself by saying he never claimed for furniture or food.  He rejects the idea of dormitory-style purpose built accmmodation, saying it would not be good for families.

John Bercow?: Asked about the Speaker he says he will not put a white spot or a black spot on any candidate.

Lisbon tactics: Asked about a referendum on Lisbon he says that one of the reasons for an early election is that a Conservative government, if elected, will give the British people the opportunity to reject it in a referendum.  Andrew Marr puts it to David Cameron that a voter can reasonably conclude that the Conservatives will not hold a referendum to unwind Lisbon if it is ratified by other states.  Mr Cameron promises to come back on to the programme and explain what the Conservatives would do IF that happens.  He repeats the 'we won't let matters rest there' formulation.

Outside of the EPP: David Cameron promises that Tory MEPs will not sit with extremist parties.  We are leaving the EPP because we want to repatriate powers and stay out of the Euro and yet the EPP holds the opposite view.  The new grouping will be with mainstream parties including the Czech civic democrats.

Tackling Britain's debt burden: We will say more about debt closer to the election but we have already said a lot including opposing the VAT cut and starting trimming spending growth now.

Tim Montgomerie


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