RUMOURS of a cabinet shake-up should the Tories win the General Election have prompted speculation about Dorset's future.

In March those councils which had voted in favour of plans to dissolve the county's existing authorities and create two unitaries presented the Future Dorset proposal to Communities Secretary Sajid Javid for consideration.

However, there has been speculation that should the Conservative Party win the General Election on June 8 Mr Javid may be replaced in this role, potentially setting back a decision on the proposal.

Tory candidate Christopher Chope, is standing against Patrick Canavan for Labour, Michael Cox for the Liberal Democrats and Chris Rigby for the Green Party in the Christchurch constituency.

Mr Chope, who with Christchurch council has opposed the Future Dorset plans, said a change in the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government could have an impact.

"If there is a new Secretary of State, they will have to take a fresh look at this whole policy area," he said.

"At any rate the manifesto makes quite clear, I think, that the government is not of a mind to impose solutions on local authorities against their will."

Mr Chope said his party's manifesto showed a commitment to backing "those authorities that wish to combine to serve their communities better", indicating possible support for the proposal outlined in July last year by the Dorset Local Economic Partnership for closer working between the county's councils on transport and the economy.

He has previously suggested that negotiations over Brexit might lead to a significant delay in the Future Dorset proposal being considered.

Mr Javid was expected to announce his decision at any time in the days before the sudden and surprising announcement of the election, shortly after which purdah began, preventing the department announcing new initiatives.