Yeo wins over his local party

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The Independent Online
TIM YEO was given an overwhelming vote of confidence by his South Suffolk constituency party last night after an astonishing telephone campaign to save his career.

One senior party official said that the MP defused a potentially explosive meeting with the 80-strong executive by calling almost all of them in advance and apologising.

After a 90-minute meeting in Sudbury, Patricia FitzPatrick, constituency chairman, emerged to say: 'An overwhelming majority of the executive council . . . expressed the view that Tim Yeo has been a conscientious and effective local Member of Parliament since 1983. There was a strong wish to continue working with Tim Yeo in the future and to co-operate in strengthening and uniting the Conservative Association.'

Looking flushed but relieved, Mr Yeo said: 'I am enormously grateful for what has been a clear vote of confidence and I look forward to working closely with all members of the Conservative Party here in South Suffolk.'

A representative of one of the 40 branches that attended said: 'Of the 31 branch representatives that stood up and passed on comments, 23 were for Mr Yeo and only 4 were against. The overrriding factor was that we all knew we couldn't afford to have a by-election.'

Mr Yeo, accompanied by his wife, Diane, put his side of revelations that he fathered two children outside marriage - one to Julia Stent, a Tory councillor, last year and the other 26 years ago to a fellow Cambridge student.

The executive was furious that last Sunday he revealed details of his first illegitimate daughter after telling members he had no more skeletons in the cupboard.

One senior Tory said: 'He was ringing people all week. First of all he apologised and then he went on to give the reasons why he conducted himself in the way he did.'

Portillo fights back, page 2

Letters, page 17