Workington Conservative MP Mark Jenkinson has thrown his hat into the ring to stand for the new Penrith and Solway constituency.
It means an interesting selection run-off between Mr Jenkinson and the existing Penrith and the Border MP Neil Hudson with the preferred candidate set to be chosen by party members in a process starting next month.
The pair were first-time MPs in December 2019.
Mr Hudson held the safe Penrith and the Border seat with an 18,000-plus majority after the departure of the high-profile Rory Stewart. Out west, Mr Jenkinson’s candidacy and win over Labour, attracted much media interest and was drawn as a bellwether for the Tories toppling the ‘red wall’.
It is estimated that around 60 per cent of the newly-drawn constituency – which has yet to be approved – falls within the existing Workington boundary.
Only a third covers territory in the Penrith and the Border seat which could mean Mr Hudson facing the tougher test to convert new voters across a sprawling patch.
Mr Jenkinson, who turns 41 soon, said his candidacy had today won high-profile endorsement from former Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Mr Johnson hailed him as “the right choice for Penrith and the Solway; one of the stand-out Conservative MPs from the 2019 intake, and an asset to the area and the party”.
Mr Jenkinson said he helped 200 constituents a week and told the Herald: “I’ll be contesting the seat and doing so on my record of delivery. I fully recognise constituencies are made up of many different people, sectors and businesses, and one thing I can’t be accused of is favouring one over another. I fight for every single constituent and put my constituency’s needs first.”
Guido Fawkes, a right wing Conservative-supporting website, has characterised the contest as one wing of the Conservative Party against another, or as it forcefully headlined it: “Cumbrian battle between Tory wets and dries”.