There is a fair bit of excitement in Westminster today that Boris Johnson could take over the Hertsmere seat of James Clappison now that the Tory MP has announced he is standing down at the 2015 election.
But one thing that this announcement misses is that Clappison has not voluntarily stood aside. MPs are being told to stick to his statement, in which he said:
‘By May 2015, I will however have served as a Member of Parliament for a full 23 years: a generation of time. It is difficult letting go but I do feel now is the time to move on. There is a world elsewhere.’
But many parliamentarians know that the truth is that Clappison was not re-adopted by his association, who want a different candidate. This is different to being de-selected, as with Tim Yeo and Anne McIntosh, and Clappison was able to say that he is leaving, rather than there being an ugly scene in which he was ousted. But colleagues in Parliament say he would have stayed if he could. If the association is looking for a high-profile MP, Boris would be a pretty ideal one to go for, although he would be quite a culture shock from the quietly hardworking Clappison, who is an old-school constituency MP.
The association and councillors have not responded to requests for comment on this story, and when contacted by Coffee House, Clappison said he couldn’t add anything further to his statement but that he will continue in his capacity as an MP right up to the general election.