Theresa May’s former chief of staff Nick Timothy has been selected as the Tory candidate to replace Matt Hancock in West Suffolk.

Timothy, currently a senior fellow at the Policy Exchange think tank and a weekly columnist at The Telegraph, won the ballot on Sunday evening in what Rachel Hood, chair of the West Suffolk Conservative Association, called an “open, rigorous and transparent process.”

The outgoing Hancock, who has held the seat since 2010 and won a 23,000 majority in 2019, congratulated Timothy on X(Twitter): “Many congratulations to Nick Timothy, a fantastic choice as Conservative candidate for West Suffolk.

“Being local MP for West Suffolk has been a huge honour the past 13 years. Best wishes for his campaign – he’ll make a terrific Member of Parliament.”

Hancock has been sitting as an independent since he had the whip removed in November for entering the reality TV show I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here. Prior to that, last summer he resigned as health secretary after leaked footage showed him breaking lockdown rules to have an affair with his aide Gina Coladangelo. Hancock has said he will leave politics at the next election to find “new ways to reach people”. 

Nick Timothy’s political career has been a mixture of success and failure. In 2015 he was barred from the Tory candidate list because of tensions between his boss Theresa May, then home secretary, and then Prime Minister David Cameron. Consequently, he was May’s joint chief of staff for the first year of her premiership before he resigned after the Conservatives lost their majority in the 2017 snap election which saw Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn perform far better than expected. 

In 2022 he penned a somewhat controversial report for the Centre for Policy Studies calling for a ban on Albanians who “unscrupulously abused” the Modern Slavery Act, which was introduced by his former boss Theresa May. 

There are some suggestions that Timothy has close family ties to West Suffolk. Local Conservative councillor Lance Stanbury was positive about Timothy’s selection saying he “understands all the issues” and “will make a great candidate”.

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