Former Cabinet minister Eric Pickles has announced that he will stand down as an MP at the coming general election.
Sir Eric said he had served as an elected official for “just short of forty years” and that “after much heart searching” he had come to the conclusion that his constituency should have a new MP.
The Brentwood and Ongar MP served as Communities Secretary under David Cameron and oversaw policies including an expansion of the Right To Buy and sharp cuts to local council services.
He was Tory party chairman for just over a year in 2009 and 2010, and after leaving the Cabinet serves as Mr Cameron’s anti-corruption tsar.
Sir Eric is one of a number of MPs to say they will not stand at the snap 8 June election, with other big names including Labour’s Alan Johnson and former Chancellor George Osborne.
This morning the Labour MP for Nottingham North Graham Allen also announced he was standing down at the election, citing ill health.
Sir Eric said: “I have served in elected office, either as a councillor or a Member of Parliament for just short of forty years, starting with the wonderful Margaret Thatcher up to and including Theresa May.
“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.
“After much heart searching I have concluded that now is the right time for Brentwood and Ongar to have a new representative in Westminster.”
Sir Eric’s constituency has an ultra-safe Tory majority; he won 30,534 votes in the 2015 general election compared to his next rival Ukip candidate’s 8,724