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VIDEO: Legal eagle mum aims to spread wings as Louth & Horncastle MP

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On her official Twitter page, Victoria Atkins describes herself as wife, mother and criminal barrister - in that order.

However, the 38-year-old married mum of one might have to change that next year.

She has now been installed as red-hot favourite to succeed Sir Peter Tapsell as MP for Louth and Horncastle.

Sir Peter, the veteran MP who seems to have been around for more years than even he cares to remember, will step down at next May’s General Election.

Speculation about his successor finally ended on Monday night when Mrs Atkins won a convoluted and controversial Primary Election at Franklin Hall in Spilsby.

Convoluted? Certainly. The process took three-and-a-half hours and involved three secret ballots.

Controversial? Certainly. The Tories might have hailed the Primary election as a bold, new and completely open way of electing a candidate - but then promptly banned the Press from the meeting.

Apparently, there was a Q&A session but exactly what Mrs Atkins said to win more than 50 per cent of the vote will have to remain secret.

The huge smile on the face of the victor - and the looks of total dejection on the other hopefuls - said it all.

Sarah Macken was eliminated in the first vote and then James Browne.

In the end, it boiled down to a straight fight between Cotswold based Mrs Atkins and former Lincolnshire County Councillor Kelly Smith, a resident of Tealby near Market Rasen.

Would the ‘home boy’ win it? No. Mrs Atkins took the contest - and the applause.

She told the assembled press, “I’m really excited and feel very honoured to be chosen as the Conservative candidate.

“I will take it one step at a time and look forward to learning from Sir Peter - as well as doing things my own way.”

There were the inevitable questions about Mrs Atkins’ lack of a local link.

The Cotswolds are hilly but they aren’t the Lincolnshire Wolds. Leafy Cheltenham is not exactly Louth or Horncastle for that matter either.

Together with husband Paul and son Monty, she confirmed she will be upping sticks and moving to our county to “immerse themselves” in Lincolnshire life.

That will go down well with the Tory faithful who were more than a little concerned when several high-profile names - remember Boris? - were linked with the impending vacancy.

Mrs Atkins had done her homework, adding: “The three main concerns of local people are housing development, wind farms and flooding.

“My role will be to continue Sir Peter’s campaign on these issues and make sure we build on the good work of local councils.”

Sir Peter was not present at the election, but no doubt he would have approved of his successor.

After all, the Louth and Horncastle seat is one of the safest in the country and rival parties have yet to reveal their hand.

The Louth and Horncastle Conservatives are convinced they have got the right, and a winning candidate.

Chairman David Andrews said: “We’re very happy. All four would have been excellent candidates, but Victoria is very good. She has a lot of hard work to do but we are more than confident we will be able to do it.”

It is said that Prime Minister David Cameron is more than happy with Mrs Atkins’ win.

She would add to the number of female MP’s and just might not present the same grizzled opponent in some PM’s Question Times as a certain Father of the House!

Away from politics, Mrs Atkins says her favourite all-time is Fly Me To The Moon by Frank Sinatra.

After Monday evening in sultry Spilsby, she might well be parachuted into Parliament.

WHAT VICTORIA ATKINS HAS SAID:

Which previous Conservative leader do you most admire?

I am tempted to say Margaret Thatcher, as she was one of the first women to train as a barrister at my set of chambers. However, I most admire John Major. People often forget that he governed the country with a tiny majority, and managed to achieve a great deal. He was decent and honest, and left a golden economic legacy and the foundations of peace in Northern Ireland.

What’s been the worst failure of the Labour government?

Where to start? Destroying what was a strong pension system; selling our gold reserves at a quarter of the current price; squandering the opportunity to reform public services; it goes on and on. If I had to pick one, it would have to be the £178 billion deficit we’ll have to fix after the Great Recession.

Should we have a referendum ‘about Europe’?

Tony Blair and Gordon Brown promised us a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, and we should have had one before it was ratified. This was a terrible betrayal of the British people. Now Parliament has ratified the treaty, it’s too late. But if an ounce of British power is ever transferred again, it must be only after a referendum.

Would you maintain the minimum wage?

Yes.

What are the advantages and/or disadvantages of ‘Open Primaries’?

I know from my website and lots of my conversations around the constituency that Open Primaries are great for engaging people in politics. It’s definitely good to be open and give people a choice. But perhaps we should ask Simon Cowell to help us stage a more audience-friendly event: for example, a Question Time format would allow interaction between the candidates and really show us all thinking on our feet.

 

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