THE leader of Portsmouth City Council insists she is not turning her back on her home city despite gunning to be the next Fareham MP.
Councillor Donna Jones says it would be the next ‘natural step’ in her political career being appointed the Tory candidate for the seat in the general election.
And political rivals have wished the Tory councillor well and say her experience on the council makes her a strong choice.
Cllr Jones, who lives in Drayton, said: ‘I’m absolutely not turning my back on Portsmouth. I was at the office at 8.30am yesterday carrying on with the day job. There is absolutely no presumption I will become the candidate. I have got a 25 per cent chance, the same as everyone else.’
Cllr Jones is up against Jeremy Quin, from Buckingham, Nick Rose from Bournemouth and Suella Fernandes from London. A decision over who will be selected will be made on Saturday.
Cllr Jones said she will resign as council leader and as councillor for Hilsea ward should she be elected by voters at the general election on May 7 – but not beforehand.
Her resignation would trigger a city council by-election.
‘If I was elected as the MP for Fareham, I would immediately resign as leader of Portsmouth City Council, and as a councillor full stop,’ she said.
‘I do not believe that I would simply have the time to do the job as both city councillor and MP and nor would it right to serve two different areas simultaneously.’
She added: ‘If I’m selected as the candidate, then it would be a natural step.’
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Portsmouth South, said: ‘We should wish her well. Another voice from Portsmouth in parliament is a good thing.
‘If that’s what she wants to do and that is her ambition, then great.’
Cllr John Ferrett, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Portsmouth North, said: ‘She is perfectly entitled to do that.
‘Fareham is a neighbourhooding borough, and we have had an MP for Portsmouth South who lives in Fareham. This isn’t an unknown.’