Tory MP Mark Field to step down over Brexit ‘divisions’

Tory MP Mark Field has announced he will be stepping down at the next election due to the “fractious and febrile” political atmosphere and the Government’s approach to Brexit.

Mr Field, who has held the Cities of London and Westminster seat since 2001, said a “pragmatic and cooperative” approach to politics has been “tested to destruction” by the EU referendum result.

In a statement to his local Conservative Association on Thursday, he said: “I had dearly hoped that by the time of the next general election these issues would have been resolved.

“However, it is increasingly clear that divisions over Brexit and our future relationship with the EU27 will dominate and define domestic politics for many years to come.”

He said his preference for ruling out a no-deal Brexit and his support for revoking Article 50 in order to restart the two-year clock and give negotiations more time put him at odds with Boris Johnson’s government.

He continued: “Yet even if the current proposed deal passes – and naturally I shall support it – we must be clear what lies ahead will not be plain sailing.

“But having watched many colleagues follow this path in recent torrid months, I have no desire to become a disaffected, dissenting voice from the backbenches, undermining a government under whose colours I have been elected.

“So the current speculation that a general election may be imminent has forced me to reach the very difficult decision not to offer myself as your candidate for the next election.”

Mr Field said the decision had caused him “great distress and anxiety” and said he would continue to wish the Conservatives “the greatest of electoral success”.

He added: “The truth is that emotionally and geopolitically I still believe in my heart that the UK would be better served by remaining in or very closely aligned to the EU, not least given our privileged position of opt-outs over immigration, the Euro and our hard-won budget rebates.”

Mr Field caused controversy this summer after he was filmed manhandling an environmental protester at the Chancellor’s Mansion House speech.

Following the incident, Mr Field was suspended as a Foreign Office minister, although a Whitehall investigation was later dropped when Mr Johnson entered No 10.

Last month, it emerged Chuka Umunna would be challenging the seat following his defection to the Liberal Democrats.

It has been held by the Conservatives since it was created in 1950.

In 2017, Mr Field held it for the Tories with a majority of 3,148 over Labour and 13,735 votes ahead of the third-placed Lib Dem candidate.

Mr Umunna currently holds the south London seat of Streatham, which he was elected to as a Labour candidate.

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