Oxfordshire Conservatives have been forced to make a U-turn after the candidates they backed have fallen out of the race leadership race.

Witney and West Oxfordshire MP Robert Courts announced today (July 13) that he was supporting a new candidate for Conservative Party Leader, after his boss Grant Shapps pulled out of the race.

David Johnston, MP for Wantage and Didcot, will now be forced to choose a new candidate after his choice Nadhim Zahawi failed to get through the first round of voting.

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Mr Courts, who is parliamentary under-secretary of state for transport, publicly announced his support for transport secretary Mr Shapps on July 10.

At the time, Mr Courts said Mr Shapps was “the right person to take our country forward”.

Since Mr Shapps has pulled out of the race, the MP has now issued his support for Kemi Badenoch, who previously served as minister of state for equalities.

He wrote on Twitter before the first round of voting in Westminster:  “In our new leader we need not just change but clear principle. A leader with conviction and vision.

“There’s no doubt that @KemiBadenoch has these qualities - and many more.”

David Johnston has not, at the time of this articles publication, backed a new candidate.

North Oxfordshire MP Victoria Prentis backed Rishi Sunak, who scored the highest number of votes in the first round. 

John Howell remains publically undeclared. 


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This story was written by Sophie Perry. She joined the team in 2021 as a digital reporter.

You can get in touch with her by emailing: sophie.perry@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @itssophieperry

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