Portsmouth Lib Dem takes step closer to dream of becoming city MP

MP for Havant, Alan Mak

MP Alan Mak named a senior parliamentary aide in government reshuffle

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GERALD Vernon-Jackson is a step closer to becoming a Portsmouth MP after the Lib Dems selected him as a parliamentary candidate.

The former leader of Portsmouth City Council and Lib Dem group leader has been chosen to challenge the Portsmouth South seat at next year’s general election.

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson was voted in at a private Lib Dem meeting tonight.

He was chosen as the Portsmouth party’s parliamentary candidate in a secret ballot.

Lib Dem councillor Lee Hunt, who voted for Cllr Vernon-Jackson, said: ‘I am absolutely delighted and thrilled because he was the best candidate.’

Cllr Vernon-Jackson had represented Portsmouth as its leader for 10 years until he decided to step down in June following a loss of seats in the local election.

Conservative group leader, Cllr Donna Jones, took on the role.

He has since made it his mission to be selected as a parliamentary candidate.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson has also been criticised for defending Mike Hancock over claims the Portsmouth South MP behaved inappropriately towards a female constituent.

Mr Hancock apologised for his actions this summer.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson has since said he was wrong to defend Mr Hancock and had believed his previous assurances he had done nothing wrong.

It is not known whether Mr Hancock will defend his Portsmouth South seat at the general election, with issues over whether he has a long-term future in the Lib Dems still unresolved.

More to follow on this breaking news story.