Tory right-wing candidates shown the door

By staff

The Conservatives have culled a number of leading parliamentary candidates from their right wing, prompting outrage from one backbencher.

Andrew Bridgen told the Mail on Sunday newspaper it was “entirely wrong” to treat “some of our staunchest supporters in this way”.

MPs will raise their concerns over the decisions made by the party’s centralised candidate selection committee when parliament returns next month.

Although the Tories have dropped their unpopular ‘A-list’ system, which saw female and ethnic minority candidates prioritised in winnable seats, suspicions of a shift towards a more moderate candidate base risks angering those in the party’s grassroots who prefer firmer right-wing politics.

Annunziata Rees-Mogg, who came close to unseating senior Lib Dem MP David Heath in his Somerton and Frome seat last year, is the highest-profile of the 2010 candidates to have been rejected outright.

Other surprises include Deborah Dunleavy and Mark Clarke, the Sunday Times newspaper reported.

“Our grassroots supporters, who deliver leaflets and fund the running of the party, must be given a choice of candidates who reflect their views,” Mr Bridgen said.

“Failure to do so will risk repeating the mistakes of the ‘A-list’, which demoralised a large section of our membership and support network.”

The Conservatives are pushing through a reduction in the number of seats in the Commons from 650 to 600, which has increased competition among the party’s wannabe MPs.