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Newbury’s MP Richard Benyon has announced today that he is not seeking re-election at the forthcoming election. He has been MP for Newbury since 2005 having fought the seat unsuccessfully in 1997 and 2002. In an email to the Chair of West Berkshire Conservatives he said,

“As you know I was fully aware of the implications of voting the way I did last week and was not surprised when the whip was removed following the vote on Tuesday evening. I recognise that I cannot stand as a Conservative candidate unless the whip is restored. That said, I have received many calls from colleagues saying that there are plans emerging for a “path back” for the so-called rebels.

I have been giving much thought to how that could be achieved but feel now that I should let you know my clear intentions. I do not seek to be the candidate at the forthcoming election whenever it is called.

With an election looming I don’t think it is fair to the Association to continue the uncertainty about my being eligible to stand, let alone my willingness. I intend to continue to give the role of being the Newbury constituency’s MP my full focus right up until the election is called. It is a job I have loved and am proud of what my Parliamentary team, the local Conservative Party and the wonderful group of Councillors in West Berkshire have been able to achieve. For me West Berkshire Conservatives and its wide-ranging membership are the Conservative Party at its best. Without shouting it from the rooftops, over the recent decades we have improved the lives of vulnerable people and supported businesses and the communities we love. With the great local leadership that exists in the Party and on West Berkshire Council I know that this will continue in the future.

I hope the Association will move forward and be further strengthened by the selection of a good candidate to follow me and I look forward to being able to give him or her my fullest support. It has been the greatest privilege for me to be elected four times as MP for this constituency. I hope my successor is able to appreciate how lucky they are to represent an area of great opportunity filled with some of the most decent and kind people you could meet anywhere.”