Another UKIP candidate has shown her interest in Stephen Phillips’ Sleaford and North Hykeham seat - Victoria Ayling says UKIP needs another ‘strong voice of Brexit in the House of Commons’ but says it’s not all about that single issue.
She joins two Lincolnshire County Councillors, Richard Davies and Robin Hunter-Clarke and UKIP leadership hopeful Suzanne Evans have all declared their interest in the Sleaford and North Hykeham seat after MP Stephen Phillips resigned yesterday (Friday).
Ms Ayling, who is Lincolnshire County Councillor for Spilsby Fen, told The Standard: “We need to add to the strong voice of Brexit in the House of Commons and a UKIP MP will be a good way of going it.”
She added: “I live locally and it should be someone local who understands the needs of the residents and the locality, who will bring Lincolnshire to West Minster and won’t see the constituency as the bottom rung of a ladder for a greasy pole.
She said the constituency, and Lincolnshire in general, had ‘had a dreadful settlement from the Government’, calling it unfair and saying it did not take into account the rural issues and lack of infrastructure.
She said she believed that she did not want the county to be ‘shortchanged’,
She said a UKIP MP would also ‘shake up the Conservative Government if they lost a seat in a party stronghold to a party like UKIP’.
“It’s time we had another UKIP MP and challenged the Government properly and in Lincolnshire there’s no better time to do this” she said, adding: “This is more than just about Brexit.”
Conservative Lincolnshire County Councillor for Grantham with Portfolio for Highways, Transport and ICT Richard Davies confirmed he had told the local party that he wished to be considered for the seat.
He told The Standard: “I live in the constituency and have for most of my life. I’m very passionate about Lincolnshire and South Lincolnshire in particular. I think the area has a set of problems that need to be addressed by somebody local who’s a got a strong connection to the area.”
Since announcing his intentions Mr Davies has recieved a number of tweets in support.
He said: “I think one of the really touching things is there are people on there [Twitter] who I don’t agree with, but what’s been refreshing is those same people are turning to me saying go for it.
“It’s really quite good when people are prepared to look beyond single issues and look at bigger issues.”
He noted a number of highways concerns he would look to address if he was elected as MP, along with other issues such as the effect of the recent changes to Grantham A&E.
Robin Hunter-Clarke last night tweeted: ‘To stand or not to stand in the Sleaford & North Hykeham by-election!? #UKIP,’ later adding
When asked by The Standard today (Saturday), he said: “I am currently seriously considering it. My team and I achieved the second best General Election result for UKIP in the neighbouring seat of Boston and Skegness.”
Mr Hunter-Clarke is currently UKIP councillor for Skegness South, but also works as the Chief of Staff to the UKIP Group in the Welsh Assembly, working with Neil Hamilton.
He was previously Vote Leave campaign’s UKIP Coordinator for the EU Referendum, and ran for the Boston and Skegness constituency seat in May last year where he received 14,645 (33.8 per cent) votes.
He also recently ran in a by-election to be a county councillor representing Gibbonsdown, Wales, for the Vale of Glamorgan Council on November 3 where he came fifth, having recieved 54 of the 846 votes cast.
Fellow party member and UKIP party leadership hopeful Suzanne Evans has also said she ‘would love to fight this seat for UKIP’.
Mrs Evans admitted she hadn’t had prior experience of the constituency, however, she vowed that if elected she would move and ‘live in the area, work hard in the area, it would be my only job’,
When asked about her candidacy for leadership of the party, she said: “There’s no problem in doing both. There are several MPs in the Houses of Parliament who are leaders of parties as well.”
She said she had worked all over the country throughout her life and said she could get to know an area quickly and become an active member of the community.
She added: “This will be quite a high profile by-election. I think I have got all the right skills to stand and represent the party there.”
Referring to the decision by High Court judges on Thursday that MPs must vote to enact Article 50 Mrs Evans told The Standard: “The majority of people voted to leave the EU, that’s clearly being frustrated now.”
She accused the Conservative government of not following through on the EU Referendum.
Stephen Phillips yesterday announced that he is standing down as the MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham with immediate effect as a result of “irreconcilable policy differences with the current Government”.
Stephen said: “It has been a great honour to serve the people of Sleaford and North Hykeham for the last six years, but it has become clear to me over the last few months that my growing and very significant policy differences with the current Government mean that I am unable properly to represent the people who elected me.
“This decision has been a difficult one and I hope that everyone will respect the fact that I have tried to act in the best interests of all of my constituents.”
Following his decision, Lincolnshire County Council leader Martin Hill said: “The sudden resignation of Stephen Phillips as MP for Sleaford & North Hykeham has come as a great surprise.
“He is certainly well respected and has great ability.
“However, as he appears to be at odds with the vast majority of the Conservative Party on the Brexit issue in particular, one can understand why he felt compelled to go.
“It is unfortunate when an elected politician resigns mid-term without an obvious need but it does at least give the constituency electorate an opportunity to choose someone new in the light of the huge changes since May 2015.”
North Kesteven District Council has confirmed it is making plans for a Parliamentary by-election to be held following the resignation of Mr Phillips.
Mr Phillips was elected to serve the Sleaford and North Hykeham constituency in 2010 and retained the seat for the Conservative Party in 2015.
The council said that once a date for the by-election has been set, full details will be publicised.