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‘Bionic MP’ standing down at General Election after ‘intense soul searching’

Craig Mackinlay will not stand in the July 4 poll.

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MP Craig Mackinlay returns to Westminster

A Conservative MP who got a standing ovation in the House of Commons as he returned to work after losing his limbs to sepsis has said he is stepping down ahead of the General Election.

On September 28, Craig Mackinlay was rushed into hospital and put into a 16-day induced coma, with his wife told he had only a 5% chance of survival.

MPs from both sides of the chamber rose to their feet as Mr Mackinlay returned for the first time since the ordeal on Wednesday.

(PA Graphics)

However, the South Thanet MP said after “36 hours of intense soul searching” following Rishi Sunak’s announcement of a July 4 poll, he has decided to quit.

He wrote on Facebook: “Whilst my heart tells me to stand again, there being so much unfinished business across local regeneration and national issues which are important to me, my head knows this to be impossible at this time.

“It would be difficult to withstand the rigours of an all-out election campaign, a campaign that I’d always wish to lead from the front.

“Thereafter, upon being re-elected it would be difficult for me to sustain 70 to 80 hour working weeks which were the norm prior to my illness.

“I had hoped to phase my return to the House of Commons over the coming months as my abilities improved. Since leaving in-patient rehabilitation a month ago my life now revolves around various medical appointments.

“I face numerous future operations as a result of the serious sepsis that I suffered which very nearly took my life. I have only just started the prosthetic journey and I have weekly physiotherapy and occupational therapy sessions.

MP Craig Mackinlay returns to Westminster
Craig Mackinlay, Conservative MP for South Thanet, poses for a portrait in the Central Lobby of the Palace of Westminster, London (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

“I had the most memorable appearance of my time as an MP at this week’s PMQs: it was emotional and the experience quite surreal. I shall never forget it. I had expected it to be the start of my return. It will, however, be remembered as my last hurrah.”

In a series of interviews ahead of his return to Parliament, Mr Mackinlay shared the story of how he was rushed into hospital in September last year.

On waking up, Mr Mackinlay saw his arms and legs “had turned black” and were “like a plastic” and “looked dead”.

The politician said he was “surprisingly stoic” when he was told he would undergo a quadruple amputation on December 1.

The 57-year-old father of one said he wants to be known as the first “bionic MP” after being fitted with prosthetic legs and hands.

Mr Mackinlay said he will now campaign to raise awareness of the onset of sepsis.

He started his political career in the early 1990s, briefly leading the United Kingdom Independence Party (Ukip) before leaving to join the Conservative Party in 2005.

Sepsis is a life-threatening reaction to an infection that occurs when the immune system overreacts and starts to damage the body’s tissues and organs.

Speaking on Friday, the Prime Minister said: “With regard to Craig, as I said in Parliament on Wednesday, he is just an enormous inspiration.

“For him to have gone through what he’s gone through and, as everyone can see, to just have the positivity and energy that he has brought to life is nothing short of inspiring, and whenever I’m having my difficult days I think about what he’s been through and the courage and resilience he’s shown and I think all of us can take something from that and be inspired.”

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