Conservatives begin campaigning for Stephen Phillips’ former Sleaford and North Hykeham seat

Conservatives get ready to head off campaigning yesterday (Saturday). Photo: Twitter/@RobertJenrick
Conservatives get ready to head off campaigning yesterday (Saturday). Photo: Twitter/@RobertJenrick
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The Conservative party has already started campaigning in readiness for the Sleaford and North Hykeham by-election set to take place in December, following Stephen Phillips’ resignation on Friday.

Campaigners in the town yesterday (Saturday) included the Member of Parliament for Newark. and parliamentary private secretary to Lord Chancellor Elizabeth Truss, Robert Jenrick, Conservative MP for Suffolk Coastal & DEFRA minister Therese Coffey and MP for Skipton and Ripon and Vice Chamberlain/Government Whip Julian Smith.

Mr Jenrick tweeted a picture of the team saying: “And we’re off! @Conservatives talking to residents of Sleaford & North Hykeham today with @theresecoffey @juliansmithmp & more.”

He confirmed to The Standard via the social network site that they had started campaigning and talking to local people.

He said a candidate was due to be chosen in the next few days, but that the party had begun campaigning anyway.

He was also Tweeted by fellow MPs including Boston and Skegness’ Matt Warman and Sherwood’s Mark Spencer who said they were ‘looking forward’ to joining in the campaign.

Stephen Phillips resigned as the MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham on Friday citing ‘irreconcilable policy differences with the current Government’.

In a statement, he said it had been ‘an honour’ to serve the constituency for the past six years and that the decision to step down had been ‘a difficult one’.

Already, several contenders for the seat have announced their interest in standing - with at least three UKIP members vying for the chance.

They include Lincolnshire County Councillors Richard Davies, Robin Hunter-Clarke and Victoria Ayling and UKIP leadership hopeful Suzanne Evans.

Following the resignation of Mr Phillips on Friday, the Sleaford and North Hykeham Conservative Association revealed they had said the following in a letter to him.

“Thank you for your letter of November 3 informing us of your decision to stand down as the Member of Parliament for Sleaford and North Hykeham.

“We were disappointed to receive it, and are sorry that you have reached this decision.

“On behalf of the Sleaford and North Hykeham Conservative Association, and the many local people you have helped during your six years as our Member of Parliament, let me thank you for the service you have given our community, and send our best wishes to you for the future.

“Like 60 per cent of people in North and South Kesteven, you backed a ‘Leave’ vote in that referendum, and we are all pleased to have a strong new Prime Minister in Theresa May who is committed to delivering its result - and forging a strong, new, positive role for the United Kingdom on the world stage as we leave the EU.

“We are also proud of the Prime Minister’s commitment to building a country that works for everyone, not just the privileged few, as she set out in her speech on the steps of Downing Street and again at the recent Conservative Party Conference.

“We look forward to campaigning to elect a new Conservative Member of Parliament to help her deliver on that exciting vision which is so important for Lincolnshire and the rest of the United Kingdom.”

A statement on the HM Treasury website on Friday also confirmed that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had appointed Stephen James Phillips QC to be Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead - a role which is given to MPs who wish to retire from the House of Commons early as members are technically forbidden from resigning.