United front over controversial Tory

Tories across South West Norfolk moved to put political infighting behind them last night as they shifted their focus from choosing their candidate to helping ensure she enters the corridors of power.

Tories across South West Norfolk moved to put political infighting behind them last night as they shifted their focus from choosing their candidate to helping ensure she enters the corridors of power.

Fresh from Monday night's political battle, newly-confirmed parliamentary candidate Elizabeth Truss issued a defiant message to her critics and a rallying call for South West Norfolk Conservatives to unite behind her ahead of the forthcoming election.

Meanwhile Sir Jeremy Bagge, the man who led the charge against her at Monday night's failed deselection bid, pledged to vote for her at the next election.

Speaking the day after the confirmation of her selection, a move which followed weeks of machinations amongst local party members, Ms Truss declared “This is something I am in for the long-term.

“I am not taking anything for granted and I am going to work hard to show that I will stand up for the people of this constituency.

“My focus is on South West Norfolk and I want to do my best for the constituency. I will prove to them I am the right candidate.

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“It is going to be about how we run the election campaign. I think when we start work on that it will bring people on board.

“I have had positive conversations with some of my critics and I hope that they will want to work with me.”

Meanwhile, speaking from his home where he said he had been receiving calls of support all day, Sir Jeremy indicated it was time to move on and prepared for a unified election battle.

In a far cry from the previous evening where he appeared bullish in defeat and said he felt “deceived and betrayed” by Conservative head office he said that, though there were still legal questions surrounding Monday night's vote: “We are going forward now and we have got to try and win it.”

Asked if he would stand or put someone else up to stand as an independent candidate in South West Norfolk he said he had a busy life with a family and estate to run and he did not think it would be “in the interests of the county or the party.”

Sir Jeremy asked for people to vote for Ms Truss at the next election and said: “I am not proud to be one but I will vote Conservative. I will support her.”

In Swaffham, a confident Ms Truss sought to end once and for all the accusations that she had been parachuted in by Conservative head office and that her not being from Norfolk made her a less than ideal candidate.

She said: “I was selected by the committee out of 150 CVs and voted for twice by the association. I was not parachuted in.”

Ms Truss stressed she now wanted to make her family home in Norfolk and said was already renting a house in Swaffham and would buy a house in the constituency in due course.

“I want to be part of the community. I will have to be at Westminster but I will be here when I am not sitting in parliament,” she continued.

Ms Truss said part of her decision to stand for the constituency was that it was a lifestyle choice and a good place to bring up children, however, she said she put her family first and wanted to spend time with them.

As such, because during parliamentary sittings she would be in London for the majority of the week, when her daughters, who are now one and three, start school they will do so in London.

“On Thursday I will come to the constituency and on Friday evening my husband will come with the children,” she said.

“My family does come first but this is a vocation not a job and I want to involve my family.

“I want to enjoy life with my family here.”

Asked if she regretted what had happened over the past few weeks she said that she had expected personal information about her to have been passed on by Conservative Central Office but added “we are where we are”.

On the subject of the national press and its labelling of local members as “Turnip Taleban” and other jokes she said: “I think they are patronising and offensive and not a reflection of the people I have met.

“I think a lot of it was created by commentators.”

During the coming weeks Ms Truss said she had a busy schedule getting out into the constituency meeting more people and working on her selection strategy.