An astonishing battle has taken place over who should be the new Conservative candidate in one of the safest Tory seats in the country.

It has resulted in the chairman of Devizes Conservative Association Brigadier Peter Sharpe quitting, but the candidate for the Devizes constituency has yet to be chosen.

In an amazing clash, Mr Sharpe wanted six people in a dramatic run-off to be the candidate in the general election, but party HQ was adamant it had to be three.

The run-off will now take place next Saturday – with a trio of candidates, Danny Kruger, Sir Ashley Fox, and Antonia Cox.

Sir Nigel Thompson –the ‘moderator’ for the run off – said: “Originally, we were told it could be three plus one. Then Sharpe tried to make it six. That was never agreed.”

He said the brigadier resigned after only three candidates were allowed.

Sir Nigel – chairman of the Claire Perry Patron’s Club – confirmed the names of the three taking part.

Scores of members of the Devizes Conservative Association are expected to attend the meeting in the market town.

Yesterday Brigadier Sharpe was said to be ‘away on holiday’.

Earlier in the year, allegations swirled about the association being ‘hijacked’ by dozens of former members of UKIP.

The membership soared by a staggering 100 newcomers in 12 months.

The seat is vacant after Claire Perry decided not to seek re-election.

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