Birmingham & Black Country

Ex Downing Street chief Nick Timothy rejected as Meriden candidate

Saqib Bhatti Image copyright Conservative Party
Image caption Saqib Bhatti is now the parliamentary candidate for Meriden

An ex Downing Street chief and adviser to former Prime Minister Theresa May has failed in his bid to run as a Tory candidate in the general election.

Nick Timothy was beaten by accountant Saqib Bhatti, who was selected to run for the Meriden seat in Solihull in the West Midlands.

Mr Timothy resigned as Mrs May's joint chief of staff after the Tories lost their majority in the 2017 election.

Mr Bhatti will contest the seat to replace Dame Caroline Spelman.

In September, Conservative Dame Caroline decided not to run in the election, citing the "intensity of abuse arising out of Brexit".

Image copyright Conservative Party
Image caption Saqib Bhatti has replaced outgoing Dame Caroline Spelman

Mr Bhatti, president of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, was picked by Tory members in a secret ballot on Tuesday evening.

He was joint secretary general of Muslims for Britain during the EU referendum and is also a director of Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership.

Mr Timothy was a special adviser to Mrs May from 2010 to 2015, when she was home secretary. He later served as a joint chief of staff with Fiona Hill in Downing Street.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, who quit as joint chiefs of staff at Downing Street following the 2017 election, has lost the Meriden candidate race

Former Sutton Coldfield mayor Charlotte Hodivala, who works as a sales manager in the pharmaceuticals sector, had also been shortlisted for the Meriden seat.

Ms Hodivala is councillor for Birmingham City Council's Sutton Reddicap ward. She contested the Birmingham Perry Barr seat in the 2015 and 2017 general elections.

Solihull councillor Laura McCarthy has been announced as the Liberal Democrat candidate.

Councillor Stephen Caudwell will stand for the Green Party.

Labour has not yet selected its candidate, the BBC understands.

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