Alistair Burt MP has signalled the end of his political career, after announcing he will not stand for re-election at the next election.
The North East Bedfordshire MP was first elected to Parliament 36 years ago, and described the Conservative Party as “my family”.
But he said he planned to vote against the government this evening, supporting an opposition bid to block a no-deal Brexit - and that this would mean he would be blocked from standing again for the party. Instead Mr Burt had decided to stand down at the next election rather than be forced out.
He said: “I have always been whole-heartedly behind the party. I have never had problems standing on a Conservative manifesto. Sometimes there have been some lines I have had to swallow, but I have never had a problem with doing so.
“But if I was told ‘You have to stand on a No Deal platform,’ then I can’t do that.”
Mr Burt previously represented Bury North before moving to his current seat for the 2001 election.
He held a number of ministerial roles, many of them in the Foreign Office, and was most recently under-secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs.
But after winning 60.9 per cent of the vote two years ago Mr Burt said he wanted to retire from politics on his own terms, adding that he had no plans to stand as an Independent or move to another party.
And after referring to how ‘Euro-lunatics’ had worked against him in the party in the past, he said: “I want to pull the Conservative Party back to the middle.
“The Conservative Party is my family. I wouldn’t want to put good friends who I have known for years in a position where they either have to support the family or support me at a deselection meeting.”