Top Tory seat up for grabs as David Cameron stands down in Witney
Could Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson be convinced to go for it?
In his final Prime Minister’s Questions, David Cameron said he would continue to “watch these exchanges from the backbenches”.
But not for long, it seems. The former prime minister has announced that he will be standing down as MP for Witney, triggering a by-election in the coming months.
Announcing his decision, Cameron was full of praise for Theresa May’s premiership, but he insisted that he did not want to be a “distraction”.
He also suggested he would take a job that some people won’t like. Or as he put it: “I have to start building a life outside Westminster”.
It is inconceivable that the Tories will not hang on to well-heeled Witney, where they currently have a massive majority of 25,155 (60.2 per cent of the vote in 2015). The question is: which lucky Tory will get the safe seat?
George Osborne may soon need a new seat after boundary changes. Esther McVey is said to be interested in returning to the Tory benches. Ardent Brexiteers might like to see Daniel Hannan finally given the nod. Toby Young is on the candidates' list and has been saying the right things about grammar schools. There are also reports that Ian Hudspeth, the leader of Oxfordshire county council, is considering throwing his hat in the ring.
But many Conservative MPs are keen to see Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davison heading down to Westminster so she can start preparing to be take over from Theresa May in a few years’ time.
The SNP's Stewart McDonald responded to the news by tweeting mischievously: “Lots of Tories in Westminster want Ruth Davidson down here. Cameron's resignation provides the perfect opportunity. Will they convince her?”
But last year, Davidson insisted she had no designs on the Tory leadership. “Running a G7 country is not for faint hearted. I don't think I'm up to it, I don't want it and I don't want the impact that it would have on my life and all of the people that I love,” she said.
More recently, Davidson provided lobby journalists with another reason why she might prefer to stay up north. Asked at a press gallery lunch about differences between Holyrood and the Palace of Westminster, she stated: "We don't have scaffolds up and the toilets work."
A few hours after Cameron's announcement, Davidson ruled herself out of the running for the safe seat.