Rugby Tories play it safe with candidate for next election

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It’s taken more than seven months since Mark Pawsey announced he would not stand at the next general election – and the Rugby party has turned to a member of his office team as their next candidate.

Yousef Dahmash is county councillor for Hillmorton, as well as being Mr Pawsey’s chief of staff and senior parliamentary assistant.

It’s been a long wait to see who would be the party’s new candidate, with a host of names in the frame.

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But after taking flak for selecting Lisa Parker to stand again for the borough council in May on the controversial basis that an allotment in Bilton was reasonable grounds for someone who lives in Northamptonshire to represent Rugby residents – and though external candidates are allowed in the parliamentary field - the association has gone for someone whose Rugby credentials are not in doubt.

Retiring Rugby MP Mark Pawsey congratulates Yousef Dahmash on being selected to fight the next election for the Conservatives.Retiring Rugby MP Mark Pawsey congratulates Yousef Dahmash on being selected to fight the next election for the Conservatives.
Retiring Rugby MP Mark Pawsey congratulates Yousef Dahmash on being selected to fight the next election for the Conservatives.

Mr Dahmash has been a councillor since 2013 and sits on the county council’s cabinet.

He grew up in Rugby and went to primary school in Bilton and then to Lawrence Sheriff School.

His mother’s family were well known in Hillmorton, running the butcher’s in the High Street.

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Both his parents worked in the NHS, his mother as a nurse and his father as a surgeon.

He lives in Hillmorton with his young family.

Speaking after his selection, he said: “To be given the opportunity to represent the place and people I love in parliament is a privilege; it is not something I take lightly.

“Rugby is my home, I grew up here, I’m raising my family here and all I want is the best for everyone who lives here.

“I know the challenges we face, and the concerns, hopes and ambitions of local residents, because they're mine too.

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“Working with Mark, and with our councillors, I’ve learnt so much. I know how to tackle local issues and to get results.

“Whether it's pressing NHS commissioners for new services at St Cross, especially an upgrade for accident and emergency care, attracting greater investment to our town centre or making sure our children get the best start in life, I’ll always continue to put the people of Rugby and Bulkington first.”

Mr Pawsey added: “I can think of nobody better to pass the torch to when I stand down.

“As someone who has – like me – grown up in Rugby, I know Yousef is passionate about our town. He will work tirelessly to build on the work we have achieved since 2010 to ensure that Rugby remains a great place to live, work and raise a family.”

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Mr Pawsey was one of the first of what has proved to be a wave of sitting Tory MPs who have chosen not to stand again.

While he won four elections, the party’s unpopularity at the national level will leave Mr Dahmash in no doubt he has a fight on his hands at an election expected to take place next year.

Labour won the previous Rugby and Kenilworth seat in 1997 and retained it in 2001, before Conservative Jeremy Wright won it in 2005.

In 2010, Mr Wright chose to fight the new Kenilworth and Southam seat, which includes the likes of Dunchurch, while Mr Pawsey stood in Rugby and Bulkington.

The other parties have yet to name their candidates.

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