Former home secretary Amber Rudd has engaged in a public row with a senior Conservative figure as she announced her intention to stand down at the next election.
The Hastings and Rye MP sensationally quit the cabinet and resigned the Conservative whip in parliament last month in an attack on Boris Johnson’s decision to expel 21 colleagues who tried to avoid a no-deal Brexit.
After a snap poll on Thursday 12 December was backed by MPs, she posted on Twitter: “Moving on. Good luck to colleagues in forthcoming GE.”
Ms Rudd told the Evening Standard: “I’m not finished with politics, I’m just not standing at this election.”
She said she was hoping for a meeting the Tory chief whip, Mark Spencer, to ask to be allowed to represent the party in parliament for the remaining few days before it officially dissolves.
“I will be leaving the House of Commons on perfectly good terms with the prime minister and I want him to succeed,” she added.
But Mr Spencer told Ms Rudd in a letter that he was “not in a position to return the Conservative whip” to her.
This prompted her to claim that she declined an invitation from the PM to stand in the election for the party.
Ms Rudd tweeted: “Funny thing really, as just last week the PM asked me to stand in the general election.
“Afraid the Chief Whip has been briefed by the wrong ‘No 10 Sources’ this morning but nonetheless I respect the decision he had been asked to make.”
As the former holder of two other cabinet briefs – work and pensions, and energy and climate change – the MP since 2010 told the Evening Standard it was “difficult” to step down from her role last month.
“I thought about it very hard,” she said.
“I felt I wanted to do it out of solidarity with colleagues I had been in cabinet with, people whose values as Conservatives I shared and respected.
“I could not stand by while they were apparently being expelled from the Conservative Party.
“I’m just very pleased the party appears to be reasserting itself, although it’s disappointing it does not include a few of them.
“I feel a sense of relief that they have been welcomed back and the party can be what it should be, representing different views on Europe as well as on everything else.”
Ten of the 21 Tory rebels were given the whip back yesterday, a Conservative Party spokesperson announced.
Ms Rudd is the latest in a string of senior MPs who have announced they will not stand at the next election.
Speaker John Bercow, the longest-serving male MP Ken Clarke, former Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable, the grandson of Winston Churchill Sir Nicholas Soames and Labour Brexiteer Kate Hoey are all not running.
The latest to join that number is David Lidington, former deputy PM under Theresa May.
In a letter in his local newspaper, he said that politics “imposes a heavy cost on family and private life” and now is the “right time for me to give a higher priority in terms of my time and energy” to his family.
Political reporter @breeallegretti Former home secretary Amber Rudd has announced she will not stand again to be an MP in the upcoming general election. The Hastings and Rye MP sensationally quit the cabinet and resigned the Conservative whip in parliament last month in an attack on Boris Johnson’s decision to expel 21 colleagues who tried to avoid a no-deal Brexit.