The Conservatives have selected Nigel Gardner as their candidate for the new constituency of Harpenden and Berkhamsted at the next general election.

Mr Gardner - who has previously stood in elections as a Labour candidate - said that he was "delighted" to have been selected at a meeting of local party members on Saturday, September 2 after a "gruelling and exhausting" process.

Speaking to the Herts Advertiser, Mr Gardner said that he had been up against a "very, very strong" set of candidates on selection day at Markyate village hall, where around 70 party members were present for the hustings that preceded the vote to decide their candidate.

In a contest involving six candidates and lasting from around 10am until 7.30pm, those on the longlist were interviewed before the hustings took place in the evening.

The process may have left Mr Gardner shattered, but he says his "main feeling was one of great excitement and privilege".

When asked why he thinks he was selected, he responds: "I think I won because this is the only seat I'm going for - I didn't apply for any other seats.

"I don't want to do the job of MP for any other place but Harpenden and Berkhamsted. I grew up right in the middle of this new constituency, in Flamstead, I went to school in Harpenden, my family over many generations are from Harpenden.

"I'm very attached to, and close to Harpenden ... but I also know the other half of the constituency because I used to hang out a lot with my friends in Berkhamsted - I had my first kiss in Berkhamsted - so it's a patch I know very well.

"You need people that are embedded in the area, and understand and care about the area.

"This may be a new constituency, but it's not new to me."

He says that he decided to run for the candidacy because he's "lucky enough" that his entrepreneurial career, during which he has founded three businesses, "kind of worked, so I'm at the time of my life now where I want to give back something to this whole place, which gave so much to me".

However, in considering the arguments around selecting local candidates, he says: "Remember your Edmund Burke [the philosopher and politician] from 250 years ago.

"If you do get elected, you're there not just to represent the local interest, you're also there to represent the national interest."

What does he think his chances are of being elected to the Commons, and being required to perform that balancing act of duties to his locality and to the nation?

"It's up to the great people of Harpenden and Berkhamsted to decide on the day, but we're going to put absolutely everything into winning this seat."

Mr Gardner grew up in Flamstead, and went to Aldwickbury School and St Albans School before reading Economics and Modern History at Brasenose College at the University of Oxford.

After university, Mr Gardner worked as a journalist for the BBC and as a spokesman for Sir Leon Brittan (formerly Home Secretary under Margaret Thatcher) in the European Commission.

He is the co-founder and non-executive director of Flint Global consultancy, chairman of Sandstone Global production company, and co-founder of GPlus, a European public relations company.

Mr Gardner has stood for election a number of times before - but for Labour, rather than the Conservatives.

He contested the 2001 general election in Suffolk Coastal, the 2005 general election in Lichfield, and the 2004 and 2009 European Parliament elections, losing each time.

He also worked for a time as Labour's communications director in the European Parliament.

Harpenden is currently represented in the House of Commons by Bim Afolami, the MP for Hitchin and Harpenden.

However, that constituency is set to be abolished at the next general election, which must take place no later than January 2025. Instead, Harpenden will be part of a constituency named Harpenden and Berkhamsted.

One of Mr Gardner's opponents in the general election will be Victoria Collins, who has been selected as the candidate for the Liberal Democrats. Labour are yet to choose their candidate.