THE race is on in Havant to find a strong Conservative candidate for the General Election after David Willetts’ shock announcement.
His departure after 20 years - as part of the prime minister’s first major shake-up at the highest levels of government - came as a huge surprise to local members.
Councillor Jackie Branson, a member of Havant Conservative Association for 20 years, said: ‘I’m very shocked and saddened.
‘He’s been a good MP for the area and will be hard to replace. Obviously the wheels will start into action to look for a new candidate.
‘At the moment, it’s all new to us. The process we will go through will be explored.’
She added: ‘I would like to see a woman but I want the best person for the job.
‘There’s nobody who springs to mind, but then, we have not been looking.’
Labour, the Liberal Democrats and The Green Party are all still in the midst of their selection process.
John Perry, a Ukip Hayling councillor, is confirmed as the Ukip candidate.
He said: ‘I don’t think it’s clear-cut who is going to be the winner.’
Lib Dem Cllr Faith Ponsonby said: ‘We want people who have been through the mill and not just been at Westminster village all their working lives.’
The Green’s Tim Dawes said the party ‘fancied its chances’.