Over the past few weeks, the Mid Bedfordshire Conservative Association (the ‘Association’) has received correspondence from members of the public related to the resignation procedures for our Member of Parliament, and the role of the Association.
I acknowledge and recognise the concerns expressed to us, and wish to clarify the following:
The role of the Association
The Association’s primary function is to secure the return of Conservative candidates at elections. This is done by selecting candidates and then supporting them with a campaigning organisation. Once a candidate is duly elected by voting members of the public, the Association, quite rightly, has no legal or constitutional right to remove them from office.
The Rt Hon Nadine Dorries MP had informed the Association that she would leave the House of Commons at the dissolution of Parliament, and the internal procedures to select a candidate for the General Election had therefore been initiated. Since The Rt Hon Nadine Dorries MP has now indicated her intention to resign from the House of Commons before the dissolution of Parliament, the Association has duly selected Festus Akinbusoye to be its By-Election candidate. The Association is looking to the future, and we encourage everyone to give Festus and his campaign their full support.
It has been suggested by some members of the public that the Association should now “de-select” our MP, to ensure a By-Election is called without delay. There is no legal or constitutional mechanism for the Association to do this. The so-called “de-selection” – which is an informal term used to refer to a situation where an association has by means of its constitution not re-selected a sitting MP to be its candidate at the next election – is not relevant in the current situation and in any case does not trigger a By-Election.
The Association has no role to play in the current Parliamentary procedure. The ways by which a Member of Parliament’s seat may be vacated during the lifetime of a Parliament - triggering a By-Election - include:
An MP wishing to resign must be appointed to a paid office of the Crown, which automatically disqualifies the Member of Parliament from holding a seat in the House of Commons. These offices are today purely nominal and are ordinarily given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to any Member of Parliament who applies for them or who otherwise indicates to the Chancellor an intention to retire. This process has not been formally initiated by the sitting Member of Parliament for Mid Bedfordshire.
Some members of the public have also suggested that the Association should now “recall” our MP, to ensure a By-Election is called without delay. A Member of Parliament may be subject to a successful recall petition under the terms of the Recall of MPs Act 2015, which is possible only if one of three conditions is met, but again, this is a Parliamentary rather than Association matter.
More detailed information is available from the House of Commons Library, including in this Research Briefing.
For further enquiries
I acknowledge and recognise the concerns that have been raised by members of the public on this matter. Having regard to the limits of the Association’s role, however, I kindly ask that further enquiries are sent directly to the Office of Nadine Dorries MP – which continues to operate and will deal with constituent casework and queries on other matters as well.
Click this link for more information about our By-Election Candidate.
Cllr Blake Stephenson
Chairman, Mid Bedfordshire Conservatives