Ex-Tory minister opposed to no-deal to stand down at next general election

Former Tory minister Richard Harrington has announced he will stand down at the next general election.

The MP for Watford has been a vocal critic of both Boris Johnson and Theresa May’s Brexit strategy.

He resigned as a business minister in March and said Mrs May’s government was “playing roulette with the lives and livelihoods of the vast majority of people in this country”.

Following the announcement on Wednesday that Mr Johnson planned to suspend Parliament, Mr Harrington said: “I think suspending Parliament increases a no-deal and I will do everything in my power to ensure that won’t happen.

Speaking to the Watford Observer, he said: “The more time there is to debate, the more chance there is of reaching a compromise.”

In a statement explaining his decision to stand down, Mr Harrington said: “Having had the privilege of serving as MP for Watford for almost 10 years, I have decided to retire from frontline politics.

“It had always been my intention to step down at the next general election, due under the Fixed Term Parliament Act in 2022.

“However, with the current increasing uncertainty about an earlier election, I believe it right for me to make clear my intentions now.

“Therefore I have told my constituency chairman that I will not be offering myself for selection as the Conservative Party candidate for the next general election, whenever that may be.

“Until then, I shall continue to devote myself to serving all my constituents – as I have done since they first elected me in 2010.

“In that general election, we Conservatives took what was then a closely contested three-way marginal seat from Labour.

“I am proud that we subsequently held the seat in the general elections of 2015 and 2017 and I give my sincere thanks to voters for the confidence they have shown in me.

“Being MP for Watford has allowed me to meet so many people from visiting schools, businesses, charities and other organisations and groups.

“I have learned a great deal from them. I will continue to offer my support for such community groups in the future, and will do my best to help my successor, in whatever way I can.”

Mr Harrington voted three times for the withdrawal agreement and has also indicated his support for a second referendum in the past.

He was first elected in 2010 and was a minister from 2015 until his resignation earlier this year.

Watford, in Hertfordshire, is a three-way marginal seat between the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

Fellow anti-no-deal Tory former minister Sir Oliver Letwin announced last week he was not planning to stand again at the next general election.

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