Express & Star

Interview: Gavin Williamson 'honoured' to be selected as Tory candidate in new seat

Sir Gavin Williamson says he is honoured to follow in the footsteps of Sir Bill Cash by standing as the Conservative candidate for Stone at the next election.

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Sir Gavin Williamson

In his first interview since being selected for the new seat – which will be known as Stone, Great Wyrley and Penkridge due to forthcoming boundary changes – he praised his predecessor as a diligent and passionate parliamentarian.

Sir Bill Cash announced earlier this month that he will retire at the next election, having served as an MP for 40 years.

The new seat includes part of Sir Gavin’s current seat of South Staffordshire as well as part of Sir Bill’s Stone constituency and also a part of the current Stafford constituency.

The new boundaries come into force at the next general election, meaning Sir Gavin and Sir Bill will continue to represent their respective constituencies until then.

Sir Gavin said: “I feel incredibly honoured to be selected as the first ever Conservative candidate to stand for Stone, Great Wyrley and Penkridge.

“Having represented half of the seat over the last 13 years, my priority will be making sure I’m championing the issues of all communities – in Stone, Great Wyrley and Penkridge and all the many villages right across the constituency – making sure their voice is heard in Westminster, making sure local issues are dealt with and doing everything I can to represent local interests.”

Keele University politics expert Philip Catney said the new seat was a good match for a relatively young MP with ambitions to continue in the role for a long period of time.

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.”

Explaining his reasons for standing in the new seat, Sir Gavin said: “Half my seat went north and half of my seat went south.

“It’s an area where there’s a large part of the constituency that I’ve represented for a long time.

“The whole constituency is a very beautiful place, and it’s really important to have a strong voice in Westminster for the whole constituency – obviously it’s a place I’m incredibly passionate about.

“I will very much do everything within my power to both win the seat and be a strong advocate for the whole constituency – north, east, south and west – in the north in Stone, in the south in Great Wyrley and all areas in between.”

He also praised Sir Bill Cash who was recently honoured for his services to politics.

Sir Gavin said: “Sir Bill has been an amazing voice, firstly when he represented the Stafford constituency and later when he represented the Stone constituency.

“I’ve had the great privilege, over the last 13 years, of working with him and I know what a diligent and passionate member of parliament he has been.

“It was great to see him recently honoured with such a significant honour as a companion of honour and it’ a real testament to his hard work.

“I very much hope I would continue in that vein, as those who I have represented over the last 13 years would hopefully vouch for that I have done with them.”