Former PM steps down

Cameron quits politics to avoid being ‘distraction’

Cameron resignsFormer Prime Minister David Cameron is to leave the House of Commons after deciding he does not want to be a ‘distraction’ to the government on the back benches.

Mr Cameron 49, will step down as Conservative MP for Witney, triggering a by-election in the Oxfordshire seat which he held with a 25,000 majority. The Conservatives are 1/500 to retain the seat.

Mr Cameron’s decision to end his political life, two months after resigning as PM and handing over to Theresa May, will prompt speculation about what he may have lined up. He is at an age that could see him forge a second lengthy career.

It has also been strongly suggested that he does not agree with some of Mrs May’s plans, such as the reintroduction of grammar schools in England.

He insisted that his timing – just ahead of a key speech on the subject by Education Secretary Justine Greening – was “coincidental”. However, just before he became Tory leader in December 2005, he said that bringing back grammar schools was “wrong”.

Other close allies of the former PM said he simply did not want to become like Ted Heath who tore into Tory policy from the back benches, including attacks on thr policies of Margaret Thatcher, who replaced him in 1975.

Speaking yesterday about his decision to resign with immediate effect, Mr Cameron said: “I thought about this long and hard over the summer,” he said, adding that he felt it was not easy to serve on the back benches as a former Prime Minister.

“In my view, the circumstances of my resignation as Prime Minister and the realities of modern politics make it very difficult to continue on the back benches without the risk of becoming a diversion to the important decisions that lie ahead for my successor in Downing Street and the Government,” he said.

“It isn’t really possible to be a proper backbench MP as a former prime minister.I think everything you do will become a big distraction and a big diversion from what the government needs to do for our country.

“And I support Theresa May. I think she’s got off to a great start. I think she can be a strong prime minister for our country. And I don’t want to be that distraction. I want Witney to have a new MP who can play a full part in parliamentary and political life without being a distraction.”

When he left Downing Street he listed among his achievements legislation giving homosexuals the right to marry and beginning the turnaround of the British economy after the financial crash.

But his legacy will inevitably be the twin referendums for Scotland and Europe and he is likely to be most remembered for losing the EU vote than securing a No vote on Scottish independence.

Mrs May said she was “proud to have served” in Mr Cameron’s government and  under his leadership “we achieved great things not just stabilising the  economy but also making great strides on delivering serious social reform”.

Speculation that former Chancellor George Osborne would follow Mr Cameron out of politics was played down by close aides who said he will stay on to fight the 2020 General Election.

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