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Politics

Christian MP Alistair Burt to stand down at next election

by Cara Bentley

Mr Burt was first elected MP for Bury North in 1983 and again in 1987 and 1992. He lost in 1997, when Tony Blair got a landslide victory for the Labour party, but regained his seat in the House of Commons in 2001 when he won in North East Bedfordshire 

Mr Burt, a Jeremy Hunt supporter in the Conservative leadership race earlier this year, told Premier at the time that he still wished for Johnson to succeed as Conservative leader: "There's lots of colleagues of whom I'm aware both of their strengths and weaknesses, as they're of mine - and I preferred Jeremy - but Boris Johnson is now the Prime Minister and do I want him to succeed? Absolutely.

"I know the sorts of things I want him and his government to avoid and I hope to provide advice in relation to that but I want to see a Boris Johnson who will succeed."

However, on Tuesday Alistair Burt announced that he had "fundamental and unresolvable disagreements" with Boris Johnson's government, before he voted against the leadership over taking control of the parliamentary agenda. 

The Prime Minister had already threatened MPs who were thinking of voting with the opposition that they would have the party whip withdrawn and effectively expelled from the party and not allowed to stand as Conservatives at the next election. 

Speaking back in July about his desire to avoid a no deal, which is currently our default option unless the law changes, Mr Burt said: "It's going to take some movement all round...bearing in mind time is short, the European position will not change markedly, the new Prime Minister is going to have to use that as a base and look at what might be possible to achieve."

In a letter to constituents, the North East Bedfordshire MP said: "After those eighteen years, and the thirty-two in total as an MP and Minister, there was always going to be a time to go, and the end of this, my ninth Parliament, seemed a likely possibility.

"However it would be foolish to pretend other than that matters have been brought forward by recent events."

"It has become clear that I have a fundamental, and unresolvable disagreement with our party leadership on the manner in which we leave the EU, and the consequences going forward for doing so.

"This is very likely to be at the root of the next election, and I believe it is unfair of me to present you with a conflict of interest between my views and those of the party at an election, even if current circumstances do not result in my having the whip in Parliament removed."

He added that he would not stand as an independent MP, saying: "It would break my heart to be canvassing for votes across the road from lifelong friends." 

He has been a minister for the Department for International Development, a position from which he resigned - also over Brexit - in March this year by voting for Oliver Letwin's amendment on setting the parliamentary agenda. 

He's also been a Parliamentary Private Secretary to Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard and Secretary of State for Education and Science in 1986. 

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