THE chairman of the local Conservative association which deselected North Yorkshire MP Anne McIntosh has denied she was branded “a silly little girl”.

Thirsk and Malton MP Anne McIntosh was voted down as the party’s candidate for the constituency at the next General Election on Friday following a long-running row with local activists, although she said she still intends to fight the seat.

Interviewed for the BBC’s Sunday Politics show, Peter Steveney, who chairs the local party association, responded to claims that opponents of Miss McIntosh – Yorkshire’s only female Tory MP and chair of an influential Commons select committee – had called her “a silly little girl” .

He said: “Certainly not – it sounds rather like the typical sort of thing Anne’s supporters would put out and I’m pretty appalled by that sort of comment.”

The dispute has been the subject of an investigation by the Conservative Party hierarchy. Bassetlaw MP John Mann said: “The Tory party clearly has a real problem with women – it has seen two women MPs in the north stand down in their first term and now a third one has been booted out.”

Philip Davies, Conservative MP for Shipley, said he was “shocked” by Miss McIntosh’s deselection.

He said: “She works very hard in the House of Commons and I feel very sorry for her, but our local associations have the right to decide who they want to be their candidate. It’s clearly not the issue that Anne McIntosh is a woman otherwise she wouldn’t have been selected in the first place. All we want are the best people in every constituency, irrespective of whether they are men or women.”