VETERAN Banbury MP Sir Tony Baldry will stand down from Parliament at the next General Election, he has announced.
The 64-year-old Conservative was first elected in 1983 and served in Margaret Thatcher’s Government, but has said the new fixed term parliaments mean he runs the risk of becoming a ‘lame duck’.
Speaking about his decision, Sir Tony said: “One of the consequences of now having five-year fixed term parliaments is that if I succeed in being re-elected at the forthcoming General Election, given my age, most people will assume that parliament will be my last.
“I think this creates a danger that I may be unable to be as effective as I would wish to be, and that the constituency will be distracted from more important issues by the need to choose my successor.
“So after careful thought over the summer recess and discussions with my family, I have decided to stand down at the next General Election.”
With his first wife Catherine at the General Election count in 1992
Sir Tony in Ethopia in 1984 talking to famine victims
Turning the first sod on the site of the new Bicester hospital, one of many local issues he campaigned on
Sir Tony had already been selected as the Conservatives’ candidate for next year’s election. Chris Rowland, the election agent for the North Oxfordshire Conservative Association, said its executive committee will set out a timetable for the selection of a new candidate.
He said: “At this stage it is anyone’s game. We should have a candidate by the end of the year at the latest and I envisage that we would have someone by late November.
“The news has just come through and it has come as a surprise to everyone, but I think we can understand his reasons.”
In his time as MP, Sir Tony has seen the expansion of Bicester and Banbury, the extension of the M40 from Oxford and the rail link to London Marylebone, which is currently being built.
At the 2010 General Election he won a majority of more than 18,000 – the second largest in Oxfordshire.
Barry Wood, leader of Cherwell District Council, said he was expecting a large number of applicants for the role of Conservative parliamentary candidate.
He said: “Sir Tony is well respected by all sides at Cherwell District Council because he is a responsive constituency MP.
“He has been a great friend to the council and a mentor and coach to me personally.”
Prime Minister David Cameron, who represents the neighbouring constituency of Witney, said: “Sir Tony has been a first-class MP for 32 years and my neighbour for 13 of those. He has held various ministerial posts and served the people of North Oxfordshire with great dedication and vigour.
“Not only has he been the finest example of an MP, but he will also be missed by the party and by me.”
A barrister by profession, Sir Tony Baldry was first elected to Parliament in 1983, succeeding Conservative Neil Marten as MP for Banbury.
- Before being elected, he had served as personal assistant to Maurice MacMillan, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, and also to Margaret Thatcher, both before and after she was elected leader of the Conservative Party.
- In the 1980s he served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to a number of ministers and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department of Energy.
- Under John Major, in 1995 he became Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, which he held until the Conservatives lost the 1997 General Election.
- He was appointed Second Church Estates Commissioner in 2010 and was knighted in The Queen’s Birthday Honours List two years later.
- Earlier this year he was made an honorary citizen of Somalia for his work as co-chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Somalia and Somaliland.
- By the time he stands down in May, he will be the longest serving MP for North Oxfordshire since the early 19th century. He is already the county’s longest serving current MP.
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