London: Former British Prime Minister David Cameron has stood down as a Tory MP, triggering a by-election in his Oxfordshire seat of Witney.
Cameron, who resigned as Prime Minister after June’s European Union referendum, said he did not want to be a “distraction” for new Prime Minister Theresa May, the BBC reported on Monday.
The 49-year-old said his replacement had “got off to a cracking start”.
Cameron, who has represented Witney since 2001, became Conservative leader in 2005 and Prime Minister in 2010.
Speaking in his constituency, Cameron said it had been a “great honour” to be an MP for the area, but said it would be difficult for him to remain on the backbenches without becoming “a big distraction and a big diversion” from the work of the new government.
He denied his announcement was related to the government’s moves towards allowing new grammar schools, a policy he rejected as Prime Minister.
He said the timing — which came after a period of reflection over the summer — was coincidental, adding that there were “many good things” in the proposed education reforms.
He said May — his former Home Secretary — had been “very understanding” when he told her of his decision.
Asked about his legacy, and whether he would be remembered as the prime minister who took Britain out of the EU, he said he hoped his tenure would be recalled for a strong economy and “important social reforms” and that he had transformed a Conservative Party that was “in the doldrums” into a “modernising winning force”.
Cameron won a 25,155 majority in 2015 in Witney, which has been held by the Conservatives since 1974, the BBC reported.
He said he had not made any “firm decisions” on what to do next, adding that he wanted to continue to contribute to public life, the BBC added.
Conservative MPs paid tribute to Cameron on Twitter, saying he had been an “outstanding” Prime Minister who would be a “big loss” to Parliament.
Cameron initially became Prime Minister in coalition with the Liberal Democrats, before securing an overall majority in 2015.
He pressed ahead with his pledge to hold a referendum on Britains’s EU membership — campaigning hard for a Remain vote and warning of the economic and security consequences of Brexit.
But he finished on the losing side, announcing his resignation the day after the vote, saying outside Downing Street that “fresh leadership” was needed.
At the time, he said he would continue as an MP until the next general election.