Long-serving Tory Sir Patrick Cormack, MP for South Staffordshire, was today resoundingly endorsed as the constituency’s Conservative candidate at the next general election, after two previous abortive attempts to "deselect" him.

He secured what he described as as "resounding victory" in a ballot of the local party membership, numbering about 500 people, in what was the third attempt since last February to reach a decision on whether he should continue to be the candidate.

Although precise figures were not available, Sir Patrick, 68, said that slightly more than 80% of the membership voted and that he secured just more than 75% of the vote.

He said: "This is a resounding victory. This is a great relief after a long period and I am just very grateful that the membership has expressed such confidence in me.

"I look forward to fighting the next election whenever it comes. I hope we have put all the worry and unpleasantness of the last eight months behind us."

The two previous votes were conducted by the party executive. The first was declared null and void after discrepancies were exposed; the second ended in a tie.

It was at this point that Sir Patrick, who has represented the area at Westminster since 1970, decided to test the opinion of the entire local party membership.

The ballot was a secret postal vote, under the auspices of Conservative Central Office.

Sir Patrick had the largest swing to the Conservatives of any candidate at the last general election, 9.5%.

He added: "I am looking forward to a glass of champagne this evening."

>>> Feb 13: Rejected Tory MP: I'll fight on
>>> July 13: Sir Patrick still in limbo