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South Suffolk: Tories dismiss anti-Green claims after Tim Yeo de-selected by association executive

PUBLISHED: 13:20 03 December 2013 | UPDATED: 13:21 03 December 2013

Tim Yeo, right, with his agent Peter Burgoyne at the election count in 2010.

Tim Yeo, right, with his agent Peter Burgoyne at the election count in 2010.

A decision to de-select Conservative MP Tim Yeo for the next general election was linked to the amount of work he was seen to be doing locally – and not his support for green policies, it has emerged.

Since we revealed at the weekend that he had been de-selected by a meeting of the South Suffolk constituency association, there has been speculation from Westminster-based newspapers and bloggers that this was because of his support for Green energy.

However we understand that there was no concern about this raised at the executive – and Mr Yeo’s vote in favour of gay marriage in the controversial House of Commons vote earlier this year was not a major issue either.

One leading South Suffolk Conservative said: “This was not about Green issues. It was about the amount of work that is being done in and for the constituency.”

He said the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner’s review of claims that Mr Yeo had offered to coach a potential witness due to attend a committee he chairs was not a major factor either.

Mr Yeo strongly denied any wrong-doing and referred himself to the commissioner. He was cleared of wrong-doing in a report published last month and is due to resume the chairmanship of the energy and climate change committee at its next meeting.

The Conservative source said members of the constituency association felt they wanted an MP who was seen to be more active in South Suffolk – and they were also concerned about the time Mr Yeo spent on outside interests and directorships compared with that he spent in his constituency.

In the last parliamentary record of interests, Mr Yeo declared outside earnings totalling £151,000 between October 2012 and October 2013.

Another £17,000 was spent by companies and organisations he is associated with to send him on his business trips to Australia, South Korea, China and Sri Lanka.

His Parliamentary earnings totalled £81,000 – just over £66,000 as an MP and just under £15,000 as committee chair – and many members of the executive felt he was spending too much time on his outside interests and not enough working with the constituency.

The executive has about 35 members, elected by individual branches from across the constituency.

If he wishes to fight the seat again for the Conservatives, Mr Yeo can request a ballot of all party members – a process that would be managed by the central party – or he could ask for his name to be included on the final panel at the selection process.

However members of the executive do not expect any change in the association’s position.

“The executive members had talked to the members of their local associations before coming along to the vote. They know what the local members are saying,” said one member.

Mr Yeo’s agent Peter Burgoyne said he had had a long conversation with the MP over the weekend – and he understood the position he was in.

He said: “He is fine and he understands where he is. I have spoken to him and he is considering things.”

Mr Yeo himself did not respond to our calls yesterday.

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