Sir Henry Bellingham announces he will not stand in general election
PUBLISHED: 17:13 04 November 2019 | UPDATED: 09:21 05 November 2019
Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham has announced he will not be standing in next month's general election, saying part of the reason is that this parliament is "probably one of the most discredited and disliked in its history".
Conservative Sir Henry, who first won the North West Norfolk seat in 1983, has taken the "agonising" decision not to stand again.
He has written to the North West Norfolk Conservative Association to inform them that he will not be running.
In his letter, Sir Henry said: "This really has been an agonising decision for me and the family, but I am quite convinced it is the right one."
The 64-year-old said he had suffered from "an annoying illness" over the summer, but still felt "at the top of his game", but had always wanted to depart before people started saying he was "no longer quite as active or dynamic as he used to be".
But he said another factor in his decision was because "this current parliament is probably one of the most discredited and disliked in its history".
He said many people around his constituency had said they have "nothing but contempt" for many other MPs.
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He said very few sitting MPs would be able to shake off this "plague on all your camps", so a "superb new and fresh candidate" was needed to "reset the dial" and get across prime minister Boris Johnson's "uplifting and positive message".
Sir Henry added he had only decided not to stand when the snap election was announced. He said he would always be on hand to offer advice and help to his successor.
Sir Henry beat Christopher Brocklebank-Fowler to first win the seat in 1983, after his predecessor defected to the newly formed SDP party.
However, he was defeated by Labour's George Turner in 1997, but won it back in 2001. He held the seat in 2005, 2010, 2015 and 2017.
Sir Henry had been in the running to succeed John Bercow as speaker of the House of Commons, but pulled out when he realised he was not garnering enough cross-party support.
He becomes the second sitting Conservative MP to announce they are not seeking re-election, after Broadland's Keith Simpson. North Norfolk Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb is also not standing.
Ian Sherwood, agent for the North West Conservative Association, said: "I was very saddened to hear of the decision of our long-serving member of parliament Sir Henry Bellingham, who today told me of his decision not to stand. "Firstly, we will all want to thank Sir Henry for his long service to the North West Norfolk parliamentary constituency. Following the general election there will be an opportunity to do that.
"With just 37 days to go until the general election, the association is now charged with one of its most important roles in selecting a new Conservative parliamentary candidate.
"Members will be written to tomorrow with details of a special general meeting which will be held within the next seven to eight days and I am sure we will have some first class candidates wishing to seek to stand for the Conservative candidate for North West Norfolk."