Conservative MP Sir Eric Pickles to step down ahead of general election

Tareq Haddad
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Sir Eric Pickles, the former cabinet minister and former Conservative Party chairman, has announced he is standing down as a member of parliament.

The 65-year-old has represented Brentwood and Ongar for 25 years, but confirmed on Saturday (22 April) he would not take part in the upcoming general election.

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He joins the list of other high-profile MPs, including George Osborne, Douglas Carswell and Alan Johnson as well as a dozen Labour MPs, saying they will not seek re-election on 8 June.

In a statement on his website, Pickles said: "I have served in elected office, either as a councillor or a member of parliament for just short of 40 years, starting with the wonderful Margaret Thatcher up to and including Theresa May.

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"I strongly believe that it is in the national interest for Theresa to receive the clear endorsement of the British people for her difficult task of removing this country from the EU. She has proved to be a great PM and has my full support in the coming campaign.

"I had intended the present parliament to be my last one, and I am grateful for the invitation to serve a further five years.

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"After much heart searching I have concluded that now is the right time for Brentwood and Ongar to have a new representative in Westminster. Accordingly, I do not wish to have my name put forward as a candidate."

Pickles was born into a Labour-supporting family in Yorkshire, but joined the Young Conservatives in 1968.

He was first elected to Bradford Council in 1979, before moving onto becoming an MP in 1992. He went on to take up a number of shadow ministerial roles as well as becoming the Communities and Local Government secretary under former Prime Minister David Cameron in 2010.

Supporters will credit him with his strong response to the Rotherham sex abuse scandal, where he stepped in and took over from the scandal-hit council. However, critics will bring to light his decimation of local government budgets, overseeing the biggest cuts to hit local councils under any government in recent times.

When the 2017 general election was announced, Pickles was quoted as saying to local press he was "raring to go" but has since reversed his decision.

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