Tony Blair’s son Euan could be 'parachuted into safe Labour seat' at expense of veteran Bootle MP Joe Benton

MP Joe Benton has held the Merseyside seat for 24 years

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The Independent Online

Euan Blair, the son of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, is allegedly eyeing up the constituency of veteran Bootle MP Joe Benton.

81-year-old Mr Benton has represented the Merseyside constituency for 24 years and has one of the safest Parliamentary seats in the country. 

But he could face losing his seat because of an internal Labour Party rebellion – with Mr Blair rumoured to replace him, the Liverpool Echo reported.

The newspaper cited sources who said seven out of eight of the wards in the constituency have informally indicated they want a selection process.

The Labour Party intervened and a formal vote on whether to have an open contest will be made by the end of next month.

That could mean that other candidates put themselves forward to be prospective parliamentary candidate (PPC).

Sources said that if Mr Benton were to retire – which he has not indicated he intends to do - the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) could impose an all women shortlist.

But several male names have also been touted, including Sefton council leader Cllr Peter Dowd and Mr Blair. 

Labour sources said it would be a “disaster” for the former PM's son to take the Bootle seat.

“There’s no way Labour is going to lose Bootle, but the idea of parachuting someone like Euan Blair in would be a disaster, a joke,” a source told the Liverpool Echo.

“Peter Dowd has Bootle in his heart, grew up round there and so it wouldn’t be like he was being parachuted in.

“But then the question would be who would replace him as leader of the council?”

Mr Benton could yet win the vote and remain and fight the seat again in 2015, but sources said the wards’ choosing to open nominations cast Mr Benton’s future in doubt as it is normally a “formality” that the sitting MP is re-selected.

The regional Labour Party is now formally asking the party what it wants to do, and a result is expected at the end of next month.

Mr Benton was a councillor in the Derby ward of Bootle and was replaced by Cllr Dowd when he became MP in 1990.

The Bootle MP was also leader of Sefton council from 1985 to 1991.

Cllr Dowd, who is also Mr Benton’s election agent, told the newspaper: “I would be interested in standing in the Bootle constituency if I got the support to do it.

“That’s no secret. But I will just wait for the process to run its course, and I’m not going to actively do anything.”

A spokesman for Mr Benton said: “He is seeking re-selection for the 2015 General Election and Bootle Constituency Labour Party has started the usual process that every sitting MP seeking re-selection will face.

“The process began just last week and the outcome won’t be known until each ward and affiliated organisation has met which will take several weeks.”

 A Labour Party spokesman said: “The Labour Party standard re-selection procedure for sitting MPs has begun in Bootle.

“A result is expected on 30 May.”