Truss still backed by David Cameron

David Cameron continued to express full confidence in Elizabeth Truss yesterday despite the further disclosures about her troubled personal background.

David Cameron continued to express full confidence in Elizabeth Truss yesterday despite the further disclosures about her troubled personal background.

“She is an excellent candidate, and still has his 100pc support”, said a spokesman for the Conservative leader.

Asked if Mr Cameron's opinion had not been changed at all by the revelation that, like the SW Norfolk Tory association recently, the Calder Valley one in Yorkshire had selected her in 2005 when ignorant of her affair with an MP, the spokesman replied: “It is a shame that matters that happened years ago keep being dragged up.”

It was the view in Conservative HQ, he continued, that opinion was shifting in Ms Truss's favour in SW Norfolk because it was felt she was being treated unfairly by her local critics and by the EDP and the Mail on Sunday. But a ring-round by this paper found no evidence of that.

The constituency association will decide to back or deselect Ms Truss at a meeting a week today. And in advance of that, anti-Truss figures in the association told the EDP of their concern that new walls of silence within it, and between it and the media, have been erected on the insistence of the national leadership.

Members of the association's executive and management team have still not been told what took place last Wednesday at Conservative HQ in London after acting chairman Hugh Colver, deputy chairman Ann Steward and agent Ian Sherwood had been summoned to a meeting with national chairman Eric Pickles.

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“Obviously something happened at that meeting. When are we going to be told?” asked a senior figure in the association.

He also said that Ms Truss had been very close to resigning after the association executive failed to re-endorse her at an emergency meeting on October 27, but that she had decided to fight on after being reassured by Mr Colver that “you'll be fine”.

In recent days, Ms Truss has been based in the constituency and has been on 'meet the voters' outings with county councillor minders. The feedback from this was that 'grass roots' people had not been favourably impressed by “a condescending manner”, the EDP was told.

Ms Truss's problems in SW Norfolk stem from the fact that the local association was horrified to discover in the media, only hours after selecting her on October 24, that she had had an affair with MP Mark Field. Many members felt that they had been taken for fools.

The EDP revealed on Saturday that members of the Calder Valley had been similarly ignorant when selecting her as their candidate in 2005 - at a time when the affair was taking place. Their subsequent embarrassment was increased by the fact that their previous candidate, Sue Catling, had been deselected over allegations of an affair.

Ms Truss cut the Labour majority in the seat to 1,367, making it a top Tory target in the next general election. But she did not try to contest again. This, said the former Conservative treasurer in the constituency, Paul Rogan, was because she knew that she wouldn't be selected again after news of her affair had got out locally.