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Gavin Williamson selected as Tory candidate for new 'safe bet' constituency

Sir Gavin Williamson has been chosen as the Tory candidate for the new constituency of Stone, Great Wyrley and Penkridge.

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Sir Gavin Williamson has been chosen as the Tory candidate for a new constituency, which will leave a gap for a Tory candidate in South Staffordshire.

The existing Stone seat is currently held by Sir Bill Cash, who announced earlier this month that he will be retiring at the next election after 40 years in Parliament.

Sir Gavin currently holds the South Staffordshire seat, the most northern part of which overlaps with the new seat he will be fighting to win at the next election.

Forthcoming boundary changes, which come into effect at the next general election, mean the new constituency will take in part of the current Stone constituency along with part of the Stafford constituency and part of Sir Gavin’s existing South Staffordshire constituency.

His selection for Stone, Great Wyrley and Penkridge will leave a gap for a Tory candidate in the South Staffordshire constituency which will be geographically smaller than its predecessor but will now include Kingswinford.

Senior politics lecturer Philip Catney said it was a shrewd move for Sir Gavin, as the seat is considered a safe bet for a Tory candidate.

He said: “If I was a Conservative MP it’s a seat I’d certainly want to have because you’re guaranteed a job for life – probably more so than South Staffordshire – so it’s a good seat and a good fit for him.

“Stone is a good idea for a youngish politician who wants to make sure he’s got a secure seat if there are a bad couple of elections for the Conservatives.”

Nevertheless, he believes it could be a tough ask for Mr Williamson to return to the front benches.

Mr Catney said: “Given the circumstances of his departure I think it would take a lot for the next Tory leader after Rishi Sunak to bring him back but strange things do happen – and, like cats, politicians often have nine lives it seems.

“Sir Gavin Williamson is probably one of those politicians who thinks he has some lives left, so I can definitely see he’d consider himself a contender [for a front bench role].

“Although, if we assume there’s going to be a big defeat for the Conservatives at the next election, he may be one of the few people left with some kind of cabinet experience.”

Sir Gavin has held the seat since 2010, and has had numerous high profile roles in government.

He was appointed treasury chief whip in July 2016 by Theresa May, before becoming defence secretary in November 2017.

He was then sacked as defence secretary in May 2019 over allegations he’d leaked information from National Security Council meetings.

Nevertheless, he was brought back into the cabinet in July 2019 under Boris Johnson, who appointed him education secretary – but he lost that role in September 2021 during a reshuffle.

He was given a knighthood in March 2022 for services to politics, and then rejoined the front benches under Rishi Sunak in October 2022 as minister without portfolio.

However, he was forced to resign from this role just over a fortnight later when messages emerged revealing he’d berated a colleague for missing out on an invite to the Queen’s funeral.