The Conservative Party has announced its candidate on Saturday for a by-election triggered by the death of James Brokenshire.
Tory members selected Louie French in its campaign to hold on to the Old Bexley and Sidcup seat in south-east London after Mr Brokenshire, Cabinet minister and constituency’s MP since 2019, died of lung cancer earlier this month at the age of 53.
The Conservative Party, which has held the seat since its inception in 1983, revealed its candidate after Labour and the Reform Party had already declared theirs.
The date for the by-election has yet to be announced.
Mr French is a councillor of eight years who also served as deputy leader of Bexley council from 2018 to this year.
He said: “James Brokenshire was a friend and mentor to me and it’s an honour to have been selected as the Conservative candidate for Old Bexley and Sidcup, where I hope to carry on his excellent work.
“I will campaign to ensure that outer London areas – like Old Bexley and Sidcup – are not forgotten or left behind by the mayor of London and City Hall.
“I will work to improve access to GPs and healthcare services, building directly on James’ work with Queen Mary’s Hospital, so residents can get a face-to-face GP appointment at a time that suits them.”
Labour has announced that Daniel Francis, a Bexley councillor and former leader of Bexley’s Labour group on the council, will contest the seat for the party.
Mr Francis, in a message on Twitter, said he had lived in the area for 20 years and vowed to work “tirelessly” for the community if elected.
Former Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice announced his candidacy in a bid to send Prime Minister Boris Johnson a “powerful message” about the impact of the Conservative government raising the tax burden to the highest level since the 1950s.
The leader of the Reform Party – formerly known as the Brexit Party before it was – said he would be pledging low taxes and a campaign for a referendum on the target of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Describing the seat as “traditionally Conservative”, the former MEP said: “Voters here did not expect the Prime Minister to deliver Consocialism, a highly taxed, highly regulated nanny state.
“We now have the highest overall taxes for 70 years and the lowest medium term growth forecasts for 60 years. It means authoritarian controls and record long waiting lists.
“It means much higher energy costs even as we approach the foothills of the net zero cost mountain.”
Mr Tice has also campaigned against what he describes as “woke nonsense” and the “erosion” of civil liberties as a result of lockdowns during the coronavirus pandemic.