Jeremy Paxman, James Cracknell and Kirstie Allsopp named as favourites to replace Malcolm Rifkind in Kensington

Former Newsnight host became known for his ferocious style when interviewing politicians - but is he set to become the interviewee?

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The Independent Online

Jeremy Paxman has been named as a potential candidate to replace Sir Malcolm Rifkind in his former Kensington seat, along with several other household names.

Presenter Kirstie Allsopp and Olympic gold medalist James Cracknell have been touted as potential replacements for Rifkind as Tory MP.

Veteran politician Rifkind yesterday announced that he was resigning as head of the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee after becoming embroiled in the “cash for access” scandal along with Jack Straw.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, Ladbrokes gave odds for celebrities including James Cracknell, Sol Campbell and Kirstie Allsopp.

Paxman, who has been identified by residents as a Kensington local, says he was invited by David Cameron to discuss the idea of becoming the Conservative party’s candidate for Mayor of London last year. He later said he wouldn’t take the job for “all the eclairs in Paris.”

Last year Paxman announced that he sees himself as a “one-nation Tory” and said that “the closer you can take decision-making to the people affected, the better”, fuelling rumours that he may launch a career in politics.


A local told the Telegraph he could be a contender, saying: "He would have to give up his job for Channel Four in the election but he lives in the borough."

Conservative Central Office will give local members three candidates to choose between.

Olympic rower Cracknell has already tried his hand at politics but so far his Conservative career has consisted of failing to clinch the Bexhill and Battle seat in East Sussex and the Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat, which Boris Johnson won.

He stood in the European Parliamentary elections in May, third on the list of Conservative MEP candidates in the South West constituency, but was not elected.

One source said that he had an advantage with the general election so close because there were “no skeletons” in his closet. His wife, TV presenter and Telegraph columnist Beverley Turner backed this up in a tweet.


Other public figures put forward for the seat include ex-footballer Sol Campbell, current footballer Frank Lampard and ex-England cricket captain Andrew Strauss, while TV presenter Kirstie Allsopp has ruled herself out.

Allsopp said she doubted Kensington could get a better MP than Rifkind and that the seat needed more than a "pretty face".

Sir Malcolm, the former defence secretary, stepped down yesterday after it emerged this weekend that he had been filmed by undercover reporters. He was recorded boasting that he could see any foreign ambassador in the world and that he would charge "somewhere in the region of £5,000 to £8,000" for half a day's work