Philip Hammond will not stand at the next general election

Philip Hammond appears on Sky News. Photograph: Sky News.

Philip Hammond appears on Sky News. Photograph: Sky News. - Credit: Archant

Former Conservative MP and chancellor Philip Hammond has announced he will not stand in the general election.

In a letter to his constituents, Hammond said that having represented them for 22 years it is "not a decision I have taken lightly".

He said the withdrawal of the whip from him and 20 other colleagues in response to their support for the Benn Act means that he is unable to stand as a Tory candidate in the election.

"If I fight the general election as an Independent conservative candidate against an official Conservative Party candidate, I would cease to be a member of the party.

"I am saddened to find myself in this position after 45 years of Conservative Party membership, 22 years' service as a Conservative MP, 12 years as an opposition front-bench spokesman and over 9 years as a cabinet minister, including service as defence secretary, foreign secretary and chancellor of the exchequer," he wrote.

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Hammond said he will now "seek to promote a widening of Conservative Party membership" to include more younger business and professional people who "support out long-established core values, to help to ensure that the Conservative Party of the future is a broad-based, forward-looking pro-business and pro-markets centre-right party".

He thanked the people of Runnymede and Weybridge, writing: "It has been a pleasure to serve you and I wish you all every good fortune for the future. I shall miss you greatly."

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