Tory rebel Richard Benyon to stand down at election, making way for a new Tory

Richard Benyon: His announcement is a statement of loyalty to the Conservative Party whose leader kicked him out.

Newbury MP Richard Benyon has announced that he is to step down as the MP for Newbury – allowing any future Tory candidate space to campaign for the seat at the next election without him getting in the way.

That’s the only way to interpret his announcement today.

In a statement on his website, he said:

“As you know I was fully aware of the implications of voting the way I did last week and was not surprised when the whip was removed following the vote on Tuesday evening. I recognise that I cannot stand as a Conservative candidate unless the whip is restored. That said, I have received many calls from colleagues saying that there are plans emerging for a “path back” for the so-called rebels.

“I have been giving much thought to how that could be achieved but feel now that I should let you know my clear intentions. I do not seek to be the candidate at the forthcoming election whenever it is called.

“With an election looming I don’t think it is fair to the Association to continue the uncertainty about my being eligible to stand, let alone my willingness. 

“I hope the Association will move forward and be further strengthened by the selection of a good candidate to follow me and I look forward to being able to give him or her my fullest support.”

One comment that may stick in electors’ craw is “over the recent decades we have improved the lives of vulnerable people” – oh, really?

I think voters in Newbury should consider those words in relation to their own position and/or that of vulnerable people they know – and then decide whether they really want another Tory messing up the system and talking nonsense about it afterwards.