Sunday, June 26, 2022

Tory candidate in Tiverton by-election accused of wanting to ‘wipe out’ meeting with Boris Johnson

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Helen Hurford has released pictures of her meetings with Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Senior Secretary Michael Gove – but not the Prime Minister

Mr Johnson visited the constituency last Friday to support his candidate Helen Hurford, just hours after Chancellor Rishi Sunak was in Devon to support her.

The Conservative Party candidate in the Tiverton and Honiton by-elections has been accused of attempting to “exclude” Prime Minister Boris Johnson from her campaign because he is seen as “toxic” to her hopes of retaining the traditionally secure Tory seat .

While the former headteacher-turned-beauty salon owner posted a video of herself with Mr Sunak, she has not shared the prime minister’s visit on any of her social media sites or flyers for her campaign.

Local residents and rivals claim they see Mr Johnson as a losing vote following Partygate and the Parliamentary inquiry into whether he lied about Downing Street lockdown breaking activities during the Covid-19 crisis.

Ms Hurford, who is defending a Tory majority of more than 24,000, said after the Prime Minister’s victory in last week’s MPs confidence vote I She would have supported Mr Johnson if she had already been an MP.

She said: “If I were an MP at the time, I would have voted for Boris because we need a leader to make the big decisions. He made the right decisions in these big decisions.”

Last Saturday, Ms Hurford added that she sees Mr Johnson as “an asset” to her campaign and will be posting a picture with him on her campaign pages in the coming days.

She said: “Yes, it goes on. Perhaps Rishi felt that he had been overshadowed.”

Four days later since Mrs. Hurford said it I that she would promote the Prime Minister’s support for her through her campaign and social media sites, she has not done so.

Instead, Ms Hurford has released pictures of a visit to her campaign, upgrading Secretary Michael Gove on Saturday and one of Labor Secretary Mims Davies on Monday.

Alongside Mr Sunak, she has also posted pictures and videos of herself with Tory Party co-leader Oliver Dowden and Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab.

Ms Hurford has also posted pictures of herself tussling with Tourism Secretary Nigel Huddleston but has yet to advertise the Prime Minister’s visit last week, which is also missing from Ms Hurford’s campaign literature.

Ms Hurford, the main opponent in the by-election caused by the resignation of Tory MP Neil Parish after he watched porn on his mobile phone in the House of Commons, has claimed her campaign avoids mentioning Mr Johnson as he is a is “voting losers on the doorstep”.

Liberal Democrat candidate Richard Foord said: “There has clearly been some hand-wringing in the local Conservative campaign over how Boris Johnson should be installed.

“Their conclusion was not at all, but they had no choice but to accept the Prime Minister’s invitation to themselves to visit them in the constituency. I think he rather pushed himself on them. That’s how I would read it. They are trying to remove him from their campaign.”

Mark Field, a lifelong Conservative voter in Axminster, said he would not vote for the Tories again until Mr Johnson was replaced as leader of the party.

“I didn’t even know he was in the constituency,” he said. ‘You smuggled him in and out under our noses, didn’t you? And no wonder he only got booed when he walked through Axminster. Also from many of us who voted for us last time. No wonder she hides the fact that she met him. It’s toxic to their campaign.”

Ahead of Mr Johnson’s photo op with Ms Hurford, he received a mix of cheers and boos during a surprise visit to the Royal Cornwall Show.

Ms Hurford was asked to comment.

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