DOUBLE Olympic gold medallist James Cracknell has entered the race to become an Oxfordshire MP in one of the country's safest Tory seats.

The rower told the Telegraph he was running to be selected by the Conservative Party as its candidate for Henley in the next General Election, replacing MP John Howell.

Mr Howell wrote to the South Oxfordshire Conservative Association to let them know he would not be re-standing, as he wished to “pursue other avenues”.

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In the past, there has been constant speculation that former prime minister Boris Johnson may choose to swap his marginal Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency for the safe seat, although his spokesman insisted he would remain with his west London seat at the time.

Mr Cracknell is a member of Henley’s Leander Rowing Club and has rowed there since he was 18 years old.


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Speaking to the Telegraph, Mr Cracknell said representing the area in parliament would be a “humbling honour” and said the town had a “special place” in his heart.

He added: “I rowed there from when I was 18 years old, bought my first house in the town, and had my first child when I lived there.

“So many of my best personal and professional memories are from my time in Henley.”

In the 2005 New Year Honours list, Mr Cracknell was appointed OBE for “services to sport” and more recently in 2019 he was the oldest competitor and oldest winner for Cambridge in the 2019 Boat Race.

Mr Cracknell featured in the Boat Race after he enrolled at Cambridge University in 2018 to study for a Master of Philosophy degree in human evolution.

This is not the first time the gold medallist has entered politics, as in 2013 he was announced as the Conservative candidate in South West England and Gibraltar.

Mr Cracknell was unsuccessful in the European Parliament election of 2014 - despite being number three on the Conservative Party list.

At the time, he said: “The European Union is going to have an effect on my children and grandchildren.

“I’d like to think I can have an effect- bring a fresh perspective.

“It’s not something I have to do, it is something I want to do.”

South Oxfordshire Conservative Association has not confirmed when it is likely it will know who will replace John Howell as the Conservative candidate.

Previously speaking to the Oxford Mail, a spokesman said: "South Oxfordshire Conservatives thank John Howell for his service as our Member of Parliament since 2008.

“We will select a new candidate in due course.”

Whoever is selected as the Conservative candidate, will have a comfortable majority of 14,053 to defend.

The Libera Democrats came second in the seat in the 2019 general election, with only 30.9 per cent of the vote.