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Kelly Tolhurst set to fight against Ukip's Mark Reckless as Tory candidate in Rochester and Strood

The woman who stood as the Conservative candidate in the Rochester and Strood by-election has a second chance at ousting Ukip MP Mark Reckless. 

The Conseratives unanimously selected Ms Tolhurst, 36, at a meeting tonight as their candidate in the forthcoming general election. 

Ms Tolhurst, a Medway councillor who runs her own marine surveying business, took on Mark Reckless in the November by-election triggered by his defection to UKIP. 

Kelly Tolhurst, MP for Rochester and Strood.
Kelly Tolhurst, MP for Rochester and Strood.

She lost by 2,920 votes - a smaller defeat than the polls had indicated would be the case. 

The selection meeting tonight will ask party members to adopt Ms Tolhurst as the prospective parliamentary candidate. 

No other would-be candidates are identified on the agenda. 

At the by-election, Ms Tolhurst was selected through an open primary, beating the Sevenoaks councillor Anna Firth. 

Conservatives believe that although they were defeated, Ms Tolhurst has established herself as a credible candidate and has a realistic chance of success in May. 

One issue that may prove challenging for the Conservatives is the differing views on the controversial Lodge Hill housing development. 

By-election winner Mark Reckless shakes other candidates' hands
By-election winner Mark Reckless shakes other candidates' hands

While the Conservative-run Medway council is backing the scheme for 5,000 new homes, members of the local Conservative association have misgivings. 

At the same time, however, Mark Reckless has come under fire over claims that he has himself flip-flopped over the issue - initially supporting the development then opposing it after his defection. 

Among pledges made by Ms Tolhurst at the by-election was a proposal that no migrant should be offered housing until they had lived in the area for five years.


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