AN AWARD-winning journalist and author has been chosen as the Conservative candidate for Solihull at the next General Election.
Tories have entrusted Julian Knight, money and property editor for the Independent on Sunday, to recapture a seat which was once among their safest in the country.
Thirty-eight applicants from up-and-down the country put their names forward, with almost 300 party members choosing from the final three last Friday.
Born in Chester, and currently based in West London, Mr Knight was BBC News’ personal finance and consumer affairs reporter for five years. In 2007, he moved to the Independent newspaper group.
He has also written six books on subjects including British politics, the euro-zone crisis and how to play cricket.
“It is an absolute thrill for me to be selected by Solihull Conservatives as their candidate,” said Mr Knight, who studied history at Hull University.
“I am really looking forward to taking the fight to our opponents and winning the seat back for the Conservative Party.
“Solihull is a great place to live, with a close-knit community and I firmly believe that the Conservative party best represents the values and aspirations of Silhillians.”
Eight years ago, Conservatives were left shell-shocked when their incumbent MP, John Taylor, was ousted by Lib Dem Lorely Burt.
In 2010, the party attempted to seize back the seat, but were left bitterly disappointed after their candidate Maggie Throup lost by a wafer-thin margin of 175 votes.
All eyes now turn to 2015 and what is sure to be one of the most fiercely fought battles nationwide.
Councillor Robert Hulland, chairman of the Solihull Conservatives, said: “Solihull is one of our priority seats and our campaign will now begin in earnest.”
Mrs Burt has said the Lib Dems were “ready for the fight” to defend their most marginal seat; the majority between the party and their coalition partners is smaller than anywhere else in Britain.
The borough’s Labour group confirmed they would select their candidate later this year.