Sir Eric Pickles to stand down as MP after 25 years

Jonathan Mitchell
Conservative MP Sir Eric Pickles: EPA

Former Conservative Party chairman Sir Eric Pickles has announced he is quitting as an MP after 25 years.

Sir Eric, the MP for Brentwood and Ongar, announced on Twitter that he would not stand in June’s election in the Essex seat he has held since 1992.

The former Cabinet minister served as communities and local government secretary under David Cameron in the last parliament.

He posted: "Looking forward to £GE2017 as a canvasser, not a candidate. Thank you Brentwood and Ongar for your support and friendship over 25 years."

Prime Minister Theresa May announced on Tuesday she would be holding a snap general election in the hope of strengthening the party’s majority in the Commons.

The move was overwhelmingly backed in the Commons the following day.

In an interview with the BBC, Sir Eric said: “I think it's always better to leave when people are asking why you're going, rather than why you're staying.

"I'd always decided this was going to be my last Parliament having served 28 years and came to the view that it was time Brentwood and Ongar had a new MP.”

Sir Eric joined the Young Conservatives in 1968 and was knighted in 2015.

He supported staying in the European Union in last year’s referendum, having originally declared himself a Eurosceptic.

In a letter sent to the Conservative association, Sir Eric wrote: “It has been an enormous honour to represent the constituency for 25 years; Brentwood and Ongar is a wonderful place to live.

"Throughout that quarter of century, I have enjoyed success and some setbacks, but have always been sustained by the friendship back home in the patch."

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