TWO leading Southend councillors are poised to throw their hat into the ring to replace Sir David Amess as MP for Southend West.

Sources close to the Conservative party say Southchurch Tory councillor Alex Bright is likely to put his name forward after being asked to stand by MPs, councillors and activists.

James Courtenay, Conservative councillor for Chalkwell, says he is “more likely than not” to seek selection for the ultra-safe Conservative seat, which Sir David held in 2019 with 59.2 per cent of the vote.

Leading Southend Conservatives have repeatedly stressed they would push for a south Essex candidate and not a “shoe-in” outsider for the by-election, likely to take place in February.

Sources say a candidate is likely to be chosen before Christmas ahead of the by-election.

Mr Bright, who was born and brought up in Southend, is understood to have the support of at least ten MPs.

He has represented Southchurch on Southend Council since May, 2016.

He is a former chairman of Rochford and Southend East Conservatives and is the Tory council spokesman for environment and planning.

Mr Bright has previously worked in Parliament for a Cabinet minister.

Mr Courtenay said he “understood applications are going to open shortly and I am considering whether I am going to apply”.

Mr Courtenay, a compliance manager in financial services, was born and bred in the borough and has lived in Chalkwell for 25 years.

The father of a 15-month-old son, he was first elected as a councillor in 2011.

He lost his seat in 2019 but was re-elected this year.

He has previously served as deputy leader of the council, leader of the Conservative group and councillor responsible for children and learning.

Former Independent Leigh councillor, Stephen Aylen has already announced he will stand as a Conservative candidate.

Mr Aylen, 65, has also lived all his life in Southend and was a councillor for 25 years until this year’s local elections.

Mr Aylen said: “I was a Conservative councillor for 15 years and I always campaigned for Sir David.

“National elections are different to local elections.”

Labour and the Lib Dems have indicated they will not put forward candidates for the by-election out of respect for the late MP.

The constituency has enjoyed long-serving MPs. Sir David was elected for Southend West in 1997, succeeding Conservative Paul Channon who had held the seat since 1959.

Sir David was attacked at his constituency surgery in Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh on October 15.

Ali Harbi Ali, 25 and from London, has been charged with his murder.