Tories select special advisers and lobbyists as election candidates
Theresa May now risks charges of election cronyism in at least one safe Tory seat.
A host of special advisers and lobbyists have been selected to fight key Conservative seats in the upcoming general election.
In the last few days, at least four former or current special advisers have been chosen as Tory prospective parliamentary candidates.
The prime minister’s social justice policy adviser Alex Burghart is effectively guaranteed a job as an MP after being selected for the safe Tory seat of Brentwood and Ongar. But Theresa May risks charges of election cronyism after party bosses parachuted Burghart into the seat which has been held by Eric Pickles since 1992.
Defence secretary Michael Fallon’s special adviser James Wild has been selected to fight North Norfolk, which is held by Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb with a majority of 4,043.
Business secretary Greg Clarke’s former special adviser Meg Powell-Chandler will fight for Birmingham Northfield, where Labour has a majority of 2,509. Powell-Chandler also worked as a special adviser in Downing Street under David Cameron and has recently been working as a policy consultant for homelessness charity Crisis.
And transport secretary Chris Grayling’s former special adviser Will Gallagher has been named as the Tory candidate for City of Chester, where Labour has a wafer-thin majority of 93. Gallagher worked for Grayling when he justice secretary, leaving in 2015 to become a director at National Citizen Service.
Another senior Tory adviser is still waiting to hear if he can have a plum Tory seat. The prime minister’s political secretary, Stephen Parkinson, is in the running for Saffron Walden, which has a Tory majority of 25,000 votes.
It comes as a handful of lobbyists have also been selected as Conservative candidates in seats that the party hopes to steal off Labour.
The Tories have picked public affairs agency boss Antony Calvert to stand against Mary Creagh in Wakefield and Fujitsu UK corporate affairs chief Clark Vasey to fight Sue Hayman in Workington.
In Stockport, the Tories have chosen Daniel Hamilton, a director at FTI Consulting. And in Birmingham Edgbaston, they have selected Caroline Squire, who is a lobbyist and the great-great granddaughter of Joseph Chamberlain.
Dylan Martinez/PA Wire/PA Images.