Sir Peter Tapsell denies he is scheming with Boris Johnson to challenge PM David Cameron
VETERAN Tory MP Sir Peter Tapsell has denied he is scheming with Boris Johnson to give the Mayor of London a safe seat to challenge Prime Minister David Cameron.
As speculation mounted over potential stalking horses to challenge Mr Cameron, political pundits focused on Boris as front runner due to his high profile in the wake of the successful London Olympics.
As reported on www.thisisgrimsby.co.uk, a report in a national Sunday newspaper quoted Sir Peter saying Boris would make an "excellent" leader of the Opposition.
The speculation also rekindled the controversy that emerged when Sir Peter backed Michael Heseltine in the challenge to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1990.
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But the MP for Louth and Horncastle told the Grimsby Telegraph that reports in the national media about him stepping down and forcing a by-election were "nonsense and naughty" claiming they were based on a joke he had with the Prime Minister nearly a year ago.
The 83-year-old, who has been an MP for more than 50 years and was chosen as Father of the House of Commons in 2010 said he intended carrying on beyond the 2015 General Election and is happy to continue his role as Father of the House.
He told members of the Louth and Horncastle constiuency annual general meeting on Friday that he is "in fine health" and wants to continue serving the Lincolnshire seat.
He also revealed to members gathered at Trinity Church Centre, in Eastgate, Louth, the reports had emerged after he met the PM at the launch of The Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations at Westminster Hall.
Sir Peter was among around 300 MPs and Lords who were later presented to The Queen in the Royal Gallery.
Sir Peter said: "I will be carrying on as MP. This (speculation) is all nonsense . It is an old joke.
The Prime Minister came up to me and said he hoped I would carry on because he did not want another by-election. I replied to him that I was keeping the seat warm for Boris Johnson. He laughed, the MPs round about all laughed and I thought it was funny. It was purely a joke.
"The Mayor of London said he is continuing until 2016. This all came from something that was said a year ago. It is a typical national newspaper story. The reporter made out it was serious, which is naughty, but there is nothing I can do about it."
He added: "I hardly know Boris. I have not spoken to him in over two years."
The MP said he has regular health check-ups and his doctor said he was in "astonishingly good health".
Tory Lincolnshire county councillor for Louth Councillor Pauline Watson said: "Sir Peter is fit. No one would suggest the Louth and Horncastle needs a younger MP. It was never discussed at the AGM. That is because it's him."
Former Mayor of Louth, Councillor Margaret Ottaway, said it was "insulting" for newspapers to speculate on Sir Peter's future.
She said: "He will make up his mind when he is ready."
Peter Tapsell may not be ready to step down yet, but would you welcome Boris as a replacement if he chose to do so? Join the debate at www.thisisgrimsby.co.uk