Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy to stand down at next general election
Jeremy Lefroy has announced he is to stand down as the MP for Stafford at the next general election.
The Conservative MP said he felt unable to commit to another term in parliament and did not want to leave his local association "scrambling around at the last minute" to bring in a candidate ahead of the next poll.
Mr Lefroy won the seat from Labour in 2010 and has a majority of 7,729.
The 60-year-old told the Express & Star he had made his decision "after lengthy consideration".
"If you stand at the next general election you have got to be committed for the next five years," he said.
"I'd originally thought that 10 years in total was the most I could manage. I've done nine years. I'd been expecting to finish at the end of the 2020 parliament but that didn't happen because of the snap election in 2017.
"It is a big commitment for me, as well as my wife, who has been incredibly supportive.
"Given that there might be a general election in the next few months or next year, I felt that it was the right thing to do to give my association enough time to select a new candidate rather than be scrambling around at the last minute.
"They are going to be able to have a proper process to pick someone who knows the area and has the best interests of the constituency at heart, rather than an imposed candidate."
Having backed Remain in the EU referendum, Mr Lefroy has come under fire for his stance on Brexit.
He has voted for the Prime Minister's withdrawal agreement every time it has been before the Commons, but rebelled against his party on indicative votes.
Earlier this year he revealed that he and his staff had received death threats over the issue, but he says this has had no bearing on his decision to quit.
"Clearly some of the stuff that we have faced has not been pleasant, but I haven't let that put me off. I'm not prepared to let people of that type influence my decisions," he said.
He declined to reveal who he is backing in the Tory leadership contest, although he admitted he was concerned over the prospect of a 'no deal' Brexit, which he described as "not a good outcome for the UK".
"Most of the candidates have said they want to get a deal but some want to leave 'no deal' on the table. I don't necessarily agree with that position but I accept that it is a perfectly valid position to take in a negotiation.
"I hope that whoever is elected leader will strain every sinew to get an agreement."
Mr Lefroy, who is a qualified chartered accountant, says he intends to "play an active role in job creation through supporting businesses in Britain and in Africa once he has stood down.
"In Staffordshire I hope to do more work with young people, which I have done a lot of in the past," he added.
He said he has faced "a lot of challenges" during his time as an MP, including Stafford Hospital, HS2 and schools funding.
But he cites growth in employment, improvements in education, planned housing developments and new business and industrial parks as key factors that have enabled Stafford to grow economically "in difficult circumstances".
He said: "A lot of challenges remain, but there's a real platform for the future. I'm positive about the future of Stafford and will commit myself 100 per cent for however long this parliament runs."
The next general election is scheduled for May 2022.
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