Meet Robert Courts - the surprise choice to take over from David Cameron

Written by David Singleton on 23 September 2016 in Diary
Diary

Witney Tories have plumped for a local councillor over a Cameron aide.

The Conservatives have selected a barrister and local councillor to step into David Cameron’s shoes – and rejected the former prime minister’s first choice.

Robert Courts, 37, was chosen on Thursday night to run as the Tory candidate for the constituency of Witney. He was a 6/1 outsider with the bookies just 48 hours earlier.

Courts has been a West Oxfordshire district councillor since 2014. He works as a barrister, volunteers as a speaker for Thames Valley air ambulance and is a member of the parochial church council in Bladon, where he lives with his wife and son.

He was described by the Conservative party as a “devoted champion for the area". However he was not person that Cameron had in mind for the job.

Rather Cameron is said to have been rooting for his aide Natasha Whitmill. She has worked in his constituency for more than 11 years and was among 46 of his aides and allies handed a CBE in his controversial resignation honours list.

Whitmill was seen as the favourite after making it on to the final three-person shortlist approved by Conservative HQ, along with Courts and fellow councillor John Cotton. But after a private meeting last night the local party selected Courts in a move seen as a direct rebuke to Cameron and Tory HQ.

Cameron said there had been a "strong shortlist of local candidates" adding: "I'm delighted Robert Courts has been chosen."

The by-election will be held on October 20. 

The Lib Dem candidate for the seat is Liz Leffman, while Duncan Enright will stand again for Labour.

The Greens have chosen Larry Sanders - brother of US Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders - as their candidate.

 

Picture via Twitter / @robertcourts

 

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