A row has broken out in the Conservative party over a bid by one of Boris Johnson's most vocal supporters to stand as a Norfolk MP.

Former East of England MEP David Campbell Bannerman, who has been critical of PM Rishi Sunak, says he could take legal action against the party, claiming there are attempts to block him from being a Tory candidate at the next general election.

Mr Campbell Bannerman confirmed this week that he wanted to stand in the South Norfolk seat that fellow Tory Richard Bacon will be vacating.

Wymondham & Attleborough Mercury: South Norfolk MP Richard BaconSouth Norfolk MP Richard Bacon (Image: UK Parliament)

He said he had been cleared to be relisted as a Tory candidate, having returned to the party after a seven-year stint with UKIP, where he served as deputy leader.

But he said Conservative Campaign Headquarters has effectively blocked him from standing through a process known as "deferment".

Mr Campbell Bannerman said his application to stand in South Norfolk had been confirmed, but when he applied for another constituency, it was not accepted.

He said he had a meeting at Tory HQ where he was urged to be less critical of prime minister Rishi Sunak on social media to be permitted to apply for constituencies.

Wymondham & Attleborough Mercury: Prime minister Rishi SunakPrime minister Rishi Sunak

Mr Campbell Bannerman, who lives in Norwich, said he was prepared to take the issue to court.

He said: "As far as I am concerned, I have legally applied. I have challenged them and I will challenge it legally if I have to.

"I do not want confrontation. I'd rather a sensible solution be found to this, even if that means I am only allowed to go for South Norfolk until the issue is sorted out."

Mr Campbell Bannerman co-founded and chairs the Conservative Democratic Organisation, a grassroots group set up by backers of Mr Johnson.

Wymondham & Attleborough Mercury: Boris JohnsonBoris Johnson (Image: Archant)

The group has criticised how Mr Sunak was appointed leader, saying the party membership should decide, not central office.

Mr Campbell Bannerman said: "I want to be considered and then it's up to the people of South Norfolk what happens.

"The whole point of the CDO is that party members should make decisions, not the cabal in central office."

The Conservative Party has not commented.