David Rendel, 43, a management consultant, was the unanimous choice of the party's local executive, and was endorsed by 98 per cent in a local members' ballot. He contested the seat in the last two general elections, achieving a swing of almost 5 per cent last April when Mrs Chaplin had a 12,347 majority.
He will need a 9.4 per cent swing to bring off John Major's first by-election upset. Since 1979, the Conservatives have never lost a first by-election of a Parliament where the former incumbent was a Conservative.
Against that is a background of a strong Liberal Democrat presence in local politics. The party has controlled the district council since 1991, with 24 seats against the Tories' 13. Labour is not represented on the council.
Mr Rendel, the son of a journalist and a teacher, formerly worked in computing and finance in the energy industry. He is married to aNewbury GP. They have three sons aged 14, 12 and 9.
He said last night: 'Newbury, like Britain, is facing difficult times. The current recession has bitten hard. Unemployment has soared. Homes have been repossessed. The recent crime figures show crime levels up and detection rates down.'Reuse content