Former Prime Minister David Cameron has said he will stand down as MP for Witney, triggering a by-election.
The former Conservative Party leader was elected Prime Minister (PM) in 2010 in a coalition with the Liberal Democrats and won a further majority in 2015. He resigned in the aftermath of the decision to leave the European Union in the referendum held on June 23rd.
In a speech from his constituency, he said it would be difficult for him to remain on the backbenches without being ‘a big distraction and a big diversion’ to new PM Theresa May. He added that serving his constituency and being re-elected with a majority of over 25,000 in 2015 had been a ‘great honour’.
Mr Cameron denied reports that this decision to resign was related to the government’s new policy to open new grammar schools (which he opposed during his time as PM), saying there were ‘many good things’ in the government’s new policy on the issue.
He said the timing came after a ‘period of reflection’ during the summer, but ackowledged that there were policy differences between himself and Ms May:
Obviously I’m going to have my own views about different issues…
People would know that and that’s really the point. As a former prime minister it is very difficult, I think, to sit as a backbencher and not be an enormous diversion and distraction from what the government is doing.
Mr Cameron further warned of the ‘very real danger’ that he could ‘drive a real wedge’ between himself and the government over the issue of leaving the EU especially when he had campaigned to remain.
He added that Theresa May had been ‘very understanding’ of his decision to step down. When asked about his legacy he said that he hoped his administration would be remembered for a strong economy and ‘important social reforms’.
As for the next steps, the former premier said he had ‘no firm ideas’ but that he wanted to continue contributing to public life.