Tory MP Neil Parish’s decision to resign after admitting watching porn in the House of Commons has created a vacancy in his Devon constituency. He has held his Tiverton and Honiton seat for 12 years and won the last election in 2019 with a 24,239 majority.
According to reports, the former Brexit Minister has been approached by several friends and allies to put his name forward to succeed Mr Parish as the new Tory candidate for the Devon seat.
The Telegraph reported that one ally described Lord Frost as “a proper Conservative” with “star quality”, who could even be a potential successor to Boris Johnson.
Lord Frost, who quit the Government last year, is understood to have indicated to friends that he would consider contesting the seat if Conservative headquarters “want him to do it”.
Lord Frost, who has been deeply critical of the direction of Mr Johnson’s Government, warned that Britain had developed “a strongly established culture of dependency, where people look to the state to solve their problems rather than making efforts themselves, and where business faces ever-growing practical obstacles to normal commercial activity”.
He added: “It is always difficult to call a halt, but call it we must.
“This is a Conservative Government and it is time to talk about Conservative principles – not only of low taxation and enterprise, but of freedom to act, to create and retain wealth, to debate and to speak freely even if others don’t like your opinions, to make your own economic choices for you or your family rather than have them made for you.”
Last month, it was reported that friends had suggested the peer as a potential candidate for Wakefield, where the incumbent, Imran Ahmad Khan, has resigned after being found guilty of sexually assaulting a teenage boy.
Labour had held the seat since the 1930s until Khan’s victory in the 2019 general election, when the Tories demolished the ‘Red Wall’ of hitherto impregnable northern constituencies.
Mr Parish, 65, relinquished his post on Saturday after admitting to the BBC he had watched explicit content on his mobile phone twice in Parliament.
He said the first time had been accidental after looking at tractors but the second was deliberate.
It was, he said, “a moment of madness, and also, totally wrong”.
Opposition parties will be hoping for a backlash in Tiverton and Honiton akin to the Conservatives’ defeat in North Shropshire following the resignation of Owen Paterson last year.
The Liberal Democrats said on Saturday that the Conservatives should “swiftly call a by-election, so the people of Tiverton and Honiton can finally get the proper representation they deserve”.
Under rules dating back to the 17th century, MPs cannot directly resign their seat, meaning that Chris Heaton-Harris, the Chief Whip, will need to move a formal writ, or motion, assigning Mr Parish to a nominal Crown role which would disqualify him from remaining in the Commons.
Writs are usually issued within three months of a seat becoming vacant, with the resulting by-election held between 21 and 27 working days later.