General election 2019: Tory Chris Davies withdraws from seat after criticism

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Chris Davies had been an MP since 2015 but was unseated by a petition after admitting submitting two false expenses invoices

A former MP who lost his seat following a conviction for a false expenses claim has quit the general election after briefly becoming the Conservative candidate for Ynys Mon.

Chris Davies pulled out after other Welsh Tories criticised his selection.

"I will not want to put my wife and family through any more distress," the former Brecon and Radnorshire MP said.

A senior Welsh Conservative source told the BBC the campaign had been "shaky to say the least".

"The candidate selection has been seriously flawed and chaotic," the source added.

Another claimed a Conservative AM had been approached to stand in Ynys Mon on Wednesday - the approach was rejected.

Announcing his decision to withdraw from the election, Mr Davies said: "Given the reaction in the media to the idea of me being a candidate, I have decided to pull out of the selection process."

Conservative AM Nick Ramsay said Mr Davies had "done the right thing".

"As John Major once said, when the curtain falls, it's time to leave the stage," he tweeted.

It leaves Ynys Mon without a Tory candidate, with the deadline for candidate selection on Thursday.

Mr Davies lost a by-election in Brecon and Radnorshire triggered by a recall petition earlier this year.

He admitted two charges of a false expenses claim in March at Westminster Magistrates' Court after trying to split the cost of £700 worth of pictures between two office budgets by creating fake invoices, when he could have claimed the amount by other means.

Mr Davies made an "unreserved apology" and was ordered to complete 50 hours of unpaid work and was fined £1,500.

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News of his selection for Ynys Mon broke on Tuesday night, prompting incredulity from Angela Burns, Welsh Conservative AM for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire.

Claiming Mr Davies had been imposed by the party, she said: "You couldn't make it up."

"It is inexplicable," another Welsh Conservative source said.

Mr Davies had tried and failed to win selection as the general election candidate in Brecon and Radnorshire again before the Ynys Mon selection was made.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Chris Davies apologised after his conviction

But Mr Davies withdrew after he realised he would not be able to command support on Anglesey, the source claimed.

One Conservative told BBC Wales there was a "feeling within the party that Chris Davies had paid the penalty and deserved another try".

However there had been "huge resistance" from within the party locally and that is why Mr Davies had withdrawn, the source added, realising he would not be able to command support in Anglesey.

The local party were only made aware of his selection on Tuesday, the source said.

Lord Davies of Gower, Welsh Conservative chairman, had defended the selection before Mr Davies quit, saying: "Chris made a mistake and has paid the price. He must now be allowed to move on."

The constituency of Ynys Mon includes the island of Anglesey and the smaller Holy Island.

The Conservatives held the seat - previously known as Anglesey - between 1979 and 1987, followed by Plaid Cymru until 2001, and since then by Labour.

Labour has selected Mary Roberts for the 12 December poll, while Plaid Cymru has picked Aled ap Dafydd.

The Brexit Party intends to stand Helen Jenner.

Ms Roberts said: "Chris Davies has rightly withdrawn. The Welsh Conservatives are in complete disarray."

Plaid's candidate said: "For the Tories to consider that he was suitable in the first place shows how out of touch they are."

Deputy leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Baroness Christine Humphreys said the Conservatives had "demonstrated their utter contempt" for Ynys Mon voters.

The summer by-election cut the Conservative working majority to just one when Jane Dodds overturned Mr Davies's 8,038 majority to beat Conservative Chris Davies by 1,425 votes.

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