Tory MP Crispin Blunt says he’s “disappointed” to have been forced to reapply as the Conservative candidate for his parliamentary seat of Reigate in Surrey. A former local Tory councillor says the reason was his sexuality.
In a statement to PinkNews.co.uk, Mr Blunt said: “I am disappointed not to receive the endorsement of the Reigate and Banstead Conservative Association’s Executive Council as the Parliamentary Candidate at the 2015 General Election.
“However, it will now be for all members of the Conservative Party locally to make their decision and I will be seeking their support.”
In order to remain as the Reigate Conservative candidate at the next general election, Mr Blunt has been forced to reapply by his local Conservative Association’s Executive Council.
Failure to convince enough of its members to support his candidacy could mean the former prison’s minister is deselected in favour of a new Conservative candidate.
Dr Ben Mearns, a former Tory councillor in Reigate, told the Daily Telegraph: “The reason I believe the association would not reselect him was based on his sexuality. That is my clear view. Some members of the association have overtly made comments and some implied that they did not want a gay MP.” Dr Mearns told the Telegraph that making the decision on the basis of sexuality was “unacceptable”.
“That is not a Conservative Party I want to be a member of, but I do not believe that is the majority view in the party.”
He has been a passionate advocate of LGBT rights in recent years and a strong supporter of David Cameron’s commitment to legalise equal marriage in England and Wales.
In May 2012, Mr Blunt recorded an Out4Marriage video. The MP is also a patron of the Kaleidoscope Trust, a UK based international LGBT rights charity.
Ahead of May’s third reading of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, Mr Blunt told PinkNews.co.uk that David Cameron had shown “fantastic leadership” on equal marriage.
Mr Blunt also said he had received great support from local Tory activists in his constituency, following his decision to come out in 2010.
“The lesson I would take from my own experiences is actually just how astonishingly tolerant the Conservative Party is. We now have more out gay MPs than all of the other parties put together, now we couldn’t be in that position if we weren’t getting support from our own constituency associations.”