Norris set to return to Tory shortlist

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Indy Politics

Steven Norris was catapulted back into the race for mayor of London last night after a rebellion by Tory activists to restore him to the party's shortlist.

Steven Norris was catapulted back into the race for mayor of London last night after a rebellion by Tory activists to restore him to the party's shortlist.

The fate of the former transport minister will be determined today by William Hague and the party chairman, Michael Ancram, when they meet to decide his suitability for the post. Senior party sources indicated that Mr Hague was "pretty certain" to allow Mr Norris to join four other candidates at a crucial hustings meeting tomorrow.

The decision to refer the mayoral selection up to the leadership followed a chaotic meeting last night of London Tories, which added to the party's misery since Lord Archer of Weston-super-Mare pulled out last month.

The party's 12-strong London Mayoral Executive stunned Mr Hague when they decided at the weekend to block Mr Norris's candidacy after complaints from activists in his former Epping Forest constituency. But a meeting of the party's electoral college at Conservative Central Office in Westminster last night decided to overturn the decision and give him a second chance.

The executive in turn recommended that the candidate selection be examined by the Board of the Conservative Party, its governing body, chaired by Mr Ancram and overseen by Mr Hague.

The electoral college, which includes representatives of the 74 constituency associations in the capital, voted to reopen the issue after an impressive lobbying campaign by Norris supporters. Many activists claimed that the party was in danger of losing the only man who could beat Ken Livingstone or Frank Dobson, the Labour front-runners.

Last night, Mr Norris said: "I'm very pleased at the outcome, although subsequent proceedings are a matter for the board. I'm not presuming any outcome until they have met."

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