THE MAN chosen to stand for the Conservative Party in Thirsk and Malton has said he is keen to work with ousted MP Anne McIntosh and reunite divisions in the local party.
Estate agent Kevin Hollinrake, 50, was selected at an SGM of the membership held at York Racecourse on Thursday.
The four shortlisted candidates were interviewed by the Moderator, Matthew Parris, before taking questions from the floor. Mr Hollinrake emerged as the outright winner after three rounds of ballots.
Miss McIntosh was deselected by her party in January after an acrimonious falling out with the local party hierarchy.
Mr Hollinrake told The Yorkshire Post he is “very keen” to work with Miss McIntosh, but would not encroach on her work in the community.
He said: “It needs to be treated quite sensitively.
“My preferences to work alongside Anne. We’re both Conservative and we both want a Conservative to be elected in Thirsk, Malton and Filey.”
The dramatic deselection of David Cameron’s only female MP in Yorkshire back in January followed a long running internal battle in the local party where she was said to have fallen out with the executive - in particular its chairman, Peter Steveney, a retired Army major and former Jockey Club stewards’ secretary.
Complaints from both sides were made to the Conservative Party’s board, who investigated and rejected them in February.
Miss McIntosh, chairman of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, drew support from Labour frontbencher Jon Ashworth and Commons Speaker Jon Bercow.
Yesterday Miss McIntosh would not be drawn on the selection of Mr Hollinrake, but said she remained loyal to the Conservative Party and would continue to represent her constituency with the “utmost energy and enthusiasm.”
She said: “As I have said before, I do not comment on internal proceedings of the Conservative Party, to which I remain loyal and supportive. Nor will I be making any further comment at this time other than to say that I intend to carry on doing the work I was elected to do in May 2010 to the best of my ability.
“I shall continue to represent the people of Thirsk, Malton and Filey with the utmost energy and enthusiasm. Being the only woman Conservative MP for the Yorkshire and Humber Region, I am extremely proud to do so.”
Mr Hollinrake said he “wasn’t party” to the reasons behind Miss McIntosh’s deselection, and that there was still a tremendous amount of work to do to reunite the local party.
“I deliberately kept out of it,” he said. “I feel for Anne because I know how committed she is, but now it’s time to move on.
“First and foremost, when you consider divisions and Anne’s deselection, we need to reunite the party to get the message out to the general public that it is absolutely critical that they vote Conservative in the next general election.”
Mr Hollinrake, who was born in Easingwold and still lives in the constituency in Husthwaite, said it was a privilege to have been selected. He said the ballot, which lasted around four hours was a “very nerve wracking” process.
Mr Hollinrake said he was keen to use his 20 years’ of business experience to fight for the small business owner.
He said: “I see things from a business perspective, and at times things you see coming from Westminster and Europe need a greater understanding of how business works. I’m a massive advocate and support of small business and entrepreneurship and keen to help where I can.”
Other priorities include tackling rural poverty, creating affordable housing, transport issues, increasing the accessibility of broadband and raising the minimum wage in line with the living wage.
KEVIN Hollinrake entered the political race in the last general election, but was forced to make the difficult decision to stand aside in a race for a seat ultimately won by his successor.
In 2007, the MD of the UK’s largest independent sales and lettings agents, Hunters, was selected to run against Labour’s Shahid Malik for the Dewsbury seat in the 2010 election. But following the crash in the housing market he withdrew, and the seat was eventually won by Simon Reevell.
Mr Hollinrake said: “I had to make the difficult decision to try to save my business or continue my political career. A lot of jobs depended on me.”