David Cameron is to stand down as MP for Witney, triggering a by-election in the Oxfordshire seat, he has announced.
He told ITV News he had thought “long and hard” about the decision but did not want to be a “distraction” from Theresa May’s new government. “I have to start to build a life outside Westminster,” he said.
Cameron added: “In my view, with modern politics, with the circumstances of my resignation, it isn’t really possible to be a proper backbench MP as a former prime minister.”
The former prime minister has been MP for Witney since 2001 and became Tory leader in 2005.
His constituency is one of the safest Tory seats in the country and Cameron won re-election to parliament in 2015 with a majority of 25,155.
When Cameron announced he would resign as prime minister in June, he said he would remain in parliament as an MP.
“I will continue with my duties as the MP for Witney. It is an enormous privilege to serve the people of West Oxfordshire,” he said.
However he has now U-turned on that pledge. Cameron also insisted he would not quit as PM should he lose the EU referendum.
The 49-year-old’s decision came as May’s government set out its plans for new grammar schools - a policy Cameron long opposed.
Speaking about Brexit:, Cameron added today:
“The country made a decision, a decision I advised against, but nonetheless the decision has been made and I want the government to successfully pursue that decision and get it right. As a result, not being a backbencher but leaving parliament is the right thing to do.”
May said she was “proud to serve in David Cameron’s government” as home secretary.
“Under his leadership we achieved great things. Not just stabilising the economy, but also making great strides in delivering serious social reform,” she said in a statement.
“His commitment to lead a one nation Government is one that I will continue – and I thank him for everything he has done for the Conservative party and the country.
The prime minister added: “I wish him and his family well for the future.”
Former Conservative leader and foreign secretary William Hague said Cameron had made the “right” decision. George Osborne also paid tribute.
Cameron’s announcement came as it was revealed Jeremy Corbyn’s London constituency is set to be wiped off the electoral map.
Islington North, the Labour leader’s seat, could disappear as it is carved up and shared with nearby constituencies.
Osborne too will see his own Westminster seat merged into neighbouring areas, it was claimed.