Damian Green, the former de facto deputy prime minister, has been rejected as the Conservative Party’s candidate for a new seat.
The veteran Tory MP who served as a senior minister in Theresa May’s cabinet lost out on his bid to become MP for the Weald of Kent constituency.
Green, the MP for Ashford since 1997, chairs the One Nation caucus of centrist Conservative MPs.
He tweeted: “I am disappointed not to have been adopted as the Conservative candidate for the new Weald of Kent seat.
“I am now thinking about what to do next and how I can best continue to work for the people of Ashford and support the government.”
His deselection fuelled speculation that Tory grassroots campaigners are targeting parliamentarians seen as responsible for Boris Johnson’s departure from No. 10.
David Campbell Bannerman, chairman of the Conservative Democratic Organisation, which plans to “restore democracy” within the party, tweeted: “There is now hard evidence MPs allegedly associated with bringing down Boris are being directly held to account and punished by members.”
The organisation led by Brexiteers and Johnson loyalists takes issue with Rishi Sunak’s elevation to Number 10 without a membership vote.
Its vice-president Lord Greenhalgh denied Green’s deselection was linked to Johnson.
The Tory peer tweeted: “This had nothing to do with @BorisJohnson but more to do with a system of selection/deselection of MPs that needs fundamental reform.
“That’s what @ConservativeDOr (Conservative Democratic Organisation) stands for. @DamianGreen has been a force for good for decades.”
Green, who is acting chairman of the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, was rejected by the local executive.
He could still put his name forward as the selection of an MP goes to the wider constituency membership.
Green was sacked as a minister in 2017 after allegations about pornography on his parliamentary computers. He breached the ministerial code by making “inaccurate and misleading statements” suggesting he was unaware of any indecent material.
In his resignation letter Green said that while he “did not download or view pornography on my parliamentary computers” he “should have been clear in my press statements that police lawyers talked to my lawyers” about it in 2008 and then raised it in a subsequent phone call in 2013.