Tories will contest James Brokenshire's Old Bexley and Sidcup seat

Tory councillor will contest by-election for James Brokenshire’s Old Bexley and Sidcup seat after death of former minister from lung cancer

  • Tory councillor Louie French will contest the Old Bexley and Sidcup by-election
  • The vacancy occurred after the death of ex-Cabinet member James Brokenshire
  • The Conservative former housing secretary died of lung cancer on October 7

A Tory councillor will contest the Old Bexley and Sidcup by-election for the Conservatives as the party looks to hold on to the seat following the death of former housing secretary James Brokenshire.

The Conservatives confirmed members in the area selected Louie French, a councillor of eight years who previously served as deputy leader of Bexley council from 2018 to 2021, to contest the seat.

A by-election will be contested after the former Cabinet minister died of lung cancer earlier this month, with the date yet to be confirmed. 

Mr French said: ‘James Brokenshire was a friend and mentor to me and it’s an honour to have been selected as the Conservative candidate for Old Bexley and Sidcup, where I hope to carry on his excellent work.

Toey councillor Louie French will contest the Old Bexley and Sidcup by-election for the Conservatives following the death of James Brokenshire

‘I will campaign to ensure that outer London areas like Old Bexley and Sidcup are not forgotten or left behind by the mayor of London and City Hall.

‘And I will work to improve access to GPs and healthcare services, building directly on James’ work with Queen Mary’s Hospital, so residents can get a face-to-face GP appointment at a time that suits them.’

Mr Brokenshire (pictured in 2018), the Conservative MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup, previously served as Northern Ireland secretary and security minister. He died of lung cancer on October 7

In his last tweet on August 31, Mr Brokenshire shared a picture of himself on a walk with his ‘amazing’ wife Cathy, and said that his lung cancer had ‘progressed’

Labour and the Reform Party have also declared their candidates.

With the constituency held by the Conservatives since its inception in 1983, Mr French will be seen as the favourite to become the constituency’s next MP. 

Party chairman Oliver Dowden offered his congratulations, saying: ‘Louie will build on James’ exceptional record as a strong voice tirelessly standing up for the people of Bexley.’

Mr Brokenshire, pictured with his wife Cathy, stepped down as Northern Ireland secretary in January 2018 on his 50th birthday after his cancer diagnosis

It comes as former Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice announced his candidacy in a bid to send Boris Johnson a ‘powerful message’ about the impact of his Government’s policies after the Conservative administration raised the tax burden to the highest level since the 1950s.

The leader of the Reform Party – formerly known as the Brexit Party – said he would be standing on a ticket of low taxes and pledged to campaign for a referendum on the target of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Describing the seat as ‘traditionally Conservative’, the former MEP said: ‘Voters here did not expect the Prime Minister to deliver Con-Socialism, a highly taxed, highly regulated nanny state.’

The coffin of Mr Brokenshire is carried from St John The Evangelist church in Bexley, south-east London, after his funeral on October 21

Labour has already announced it will contest the seat with Daniel Francis, a Bexley councillor and former leader of Bexley’s Labour group on the council, standing for the party.

Mr Francis, in a message on Twitter, said he had lived in the area for 20 years and vowed to work ‘tirelessly’ for the community if elected.

The Old Bexley and Sidcup constituency has been held by the Tories since its creation and also in its different guises since the 1950s, having previously been the seat of former prime minister Ted Heath.

Former local government secretary Mr Brokenshire won the south-east London seat with a majority of almost 19,000 at the 2019 general election.

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