Tories urge Lord Frost to stand in Red Wall by-election in Wakefield

EXCLUSIVE: Tories urge Lord Frost to stand in key Red Wall by-election as Imran Ahmad Khan resigns as Wakefield MP after being found guilty of sexually assaulting boy

  • Lord Frost is being urged to stand in the forthcoming Wakefield by-election
  • Tories are looking for high-profile candidate to cling on to marginal Red Wall seat
  • The former Brexit chief must quit House of Lords in order to run in by-election 
  • Imran Ahmad Khan resigned as MP after found guilty of sexually assaulting teen

Lord Frost is being urged to stand in the forthcoming Wakefield by-election, the Daily Mail can reveal today.

At a critical time for the Government, the Tory party is under pressure to field a high-profile candidate who can cling on to the marginal Red Wall seat.

MPs and friends have asked the former Brexit chief to step in. He would have to quit the House of Lords to run, which he can following a 2014 change to the rules.

A number of Tory MPs went public with their support for the idea yesterday and described the prospect of Lord Frost in the House of Commons as a ‘tantalising possibility’.

Lord Frost is being urged to stand in the forthcoming Wakefield by-election as the Tory party is under pressure to field a high-profile candidate who can cling on to the marginal Red Wall seat

Boris’s ‘brain’ who succeeds where others have failed 

David Frost’s reputation for succeeding where others fail could make him the Tory’s ideal candidate to stand in a crunch Red Wall by-election.

A fierce negotiator, he painstakingly secured the deal that enabled Britain to leave the EU after years of wrangling.

So revered is he in Whitehall, that Boris Johnson declared him ‘The Greatest Frost since the Great Frost of 1709’.

He was known as ‘Boris’s Brexit brain’ during the height of the negotiations and the pair have long been seen as allies.

Lord Frost, as he became in 2020, was an adviser to Mr Johnson when he was foreign secretary, and the Prime Minister made him chief Brexit negotiator when he entered No 10.

A career diplomat, Lord Frost gained his first taste of working with the EU when he was sent to Brussels in the early 1990s.

He was also posted to the United Nations and served as ambassador to Denmark but left the civil service in 2013 to head the Scotch Whisky Association.

Lord Frost also joined the Open Europe think-tank’s advisory council and in 2015 – ahead of David Cameron’s bid to negotiate with the EU – wrote a paper suggesting how the UK should approach the talks. ‘Make what you want seem normal,’ he said. And a few years later he would tell his negotiating team: ‘People get used to ideas.’

Britain left the bloc in January 2020 but Lord Frost continued to lead the post-Brexit trade negotiations.

He then took up a seat in the House of Lords – enabling the PM to appoint him as minister of state at the Cabinet Office and as a member of his Cabinet.

But he quit government at the end of last year – with the introduction of ‘Plan B’ Covid measures, including vaccine passports, the final straw after months of discontent over tax rises and the cost of green policies. 

Some friends have suggested he would be a ‘great candidate’ for a senior Cabinet role, or even a future prime minister, describing him as ‘statesmanlike’.

Last night, Lord Frost did not comment on the entreaties to him to stand. But a friend said: ‘Many people would like to see Lord Frost back in full-time politics.

‘Colleagues have highlighted to him that it is possible for a peer to resign from the Lords and stand for the Commons.

‘The unexpected Wakefield by-election is certainly an opportunity and it needs a high-profile and serious candidate. 

‘If the party and colleagues pressed him to stand I am sure he would look at this very seriously.’

Lord Frost is highly popular among Conservative backbenchers for securing the deal that enabled Britain to leave the European Union.

And his criticism of recent tax rises, costly green policies and stringent Covid rules has chimed with many on the Right wing of the party.

The Wakefield by-election was triggered this week when Imran Ahmad Khan announced he would resign as a Tory MP after he was found guilty of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy.

Labour had held the seat since the 1930s until Khan’s victory in the 2019 general election, when the Tories demolished the ‘Red Wall’ of hitherto impregnable northern constituencies. 

But the Conservatives will face a tricky battle to retain the seat, amid anger from voters over the cost of living crisis, Partygate and the challenges of a mid-parliamentary term poll.

Last night several Tory MPs publicly urged Lord Frost to consider running.

Former minister Steve Baker said: ‘The idea of Lord Frost in the House of Commons is a tantalising possibility.

‘Too few people know that it is possible to swap from the Lords to the Commons, and it is certainly worth bearing in mind.

‘But I wouldn’t blame Lord Frost if he chose not to do it this time round.’

Mr Baker said that he would like the career diplomat to be a member of the Commons ‘for many years and a secretary of state – at least’.

The law was changed in 2014 to allow peers to resign as sitting members, meaning that – while life peerages cannot be relinquished – membership of the Upper House now can.

Life peers who are no longer a member of the House of Lords regain the right to vote in elections to the Commons – and can stand for election as an MP.

Khan won Wakefield by 3,358 votes over Labour former frontbencher Mary Creagh but the Conservatives will be nervous about maintaining that lead.

Miss Creagh yesterday confirmed that she would not seek to run again – adding to pressure on party leader Sir Keir Starmer to find a candidate who can recapture the seat.

A date for the by-election has not yet been set.

Disgraced MP ‘pestered me for sex when I was a boy’ 

Disgraced MP Imran Ahmad Khan is facing new allegations after a man said that he propositioned him when he was 16.

The man said he met Khan, the Tory MP for Wakefield who was found guilty on Monday of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy, at a birthday party in Suffolk in 2015.

He said that Khan had offered to perform a sex act on him and take him to a hotel room to take drugs and hire a prostitute, The Guardian reported. 

The man, who came forward after Khan’s conviction, said that he felt ‘really uncomfortable’ after the incident. ‘I didn’t know how to take it. I was only 16,’ he said.

His mother and her partner then told Khan to stay away from her son after he told her about the proposition.

The man, who wants to remain anonymous, did not think much about it until he saw a story about Khan’s conviction.

‘The story popped up on the BBC app and I saw a picture of him and thought, “It’s him. And… this guy is an MP”,’ he said.

‘He’s the probably the furthest thing away from the sort of person anyone wants to represent them.’

Lawyers for Khan, 48, advised him not to comment on the latest allegations. But shortly after they were put to him, Khan, said he would resign as an MP, triggering a by-election in his Red Wall seat.

He had been resisting calls to stand down even though he was expelled from the Conservatives after he was found guilty. 

He plans to appeal against his conviction and said resigning would allow him to ‘focus entirely on clearing my name’.  

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