Parkinson set to be replaced

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LORD PARKINSON fuelled speculation at Westminster yesterday that he could be replaced as chairman of the Conservative Party, writes Colin Brown.

When William Hague brought him back for a second stint as party chairman last year it was made clear he would not be in the job to fight the next election. Lord Parkinson is widely expected to be replaced in Mr Hague's next reshuffle after helping steer the party away from its worst defeat this century. There is no clear candidate to replace him, although it is known that Archie Norman, the former Asda boss, and a vice-chairman of the party, wants the job. Other candidates being considered include Gillian Shephard, the former education secretary, who currently holds the portfolio on the front bench shadowing Ann Taylor, the Leader of the House of Commons.

Lord Parkinson, referring to the singer who repeatedly performed her swan-song, yesterday told a Westminster press gallery luncheon: "I feel like Dame Nelly Melba ... I would be very surprised if I addressed the press gallery lunch again and I suspect so would you be."