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Thanet South Conservatives seek Eurosceptic replacement for Laura Sandys MP

Conservatives in Thanet say their next would-be MP must be someone prepared to champion for a referendum on Europe “as soon as possible.”

The quest for a Eurosceptic candidate is being seen as a recognition that the consituency will be a prime UKIP target and seems certain to be contested by the leader Nigel Farage.

The Conservative Association this week begin to sift through applications for the Thanet South seat, which is represented by Laura Sandys, who is standing down.

A shortlist will be drawn up at the end of the month with final selection taking place in early July.

However, constituency party chiefs have made clear they expect prospective candidates to push for an “in-out” vote sooner than has been promised by David Cameron.

A message on its association website states:

“Voters have made it abundantly clear that they are dissatisfied with the policies and performance of the major parties, including ours. The parties have failed to tackle the issue of excessive immigration and the ever-growing power of the European Commission to interfere in British political, social and judicial matters.”

It goes on: “We will be seeking a new candidate for South Thanet. That candidate must be able to convince this association and our electorate that not only has he/she fully taken the voters concerns on board but it is vital the Conservative government delivers a referendum on our continued membership of the EU as soon as possible.”

The constituency will be a key battleground in 2015 with UKIP believing that it has the potential to provide the party with a long-awaited parliamentary breakthrough.

Mr Farage recently said it was “a distinct possibility” that he would stand but there has been no formal announcement.Laura Sandys has a majority of 7,617 but polls suggest the battle could be tight one come 2015.

In a recent poll conducted by Lord Ashcroft, the reported voting intention was Conservative 32 per cent, Labour 31 per cent, UKIP 27 per cent, Lib Dem 7 per cent.

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