Tory MP Mark Field announces he is quitting Parliament over Brexit
A Tory MP who was investigated for grabbing a climate change protester by the neck has announced he is quitting Parliament over Brexit.
Mark Field said the “fractious and febrile” political atmosphere had led him to the conclusion that he should stand down as an MP.
The former Foreign Office minister's decision not to run at the next election is a major boost for Chuka Umunna, who is standing for the Lib Dems in his Cities of London and Westminster seat.
Mr Field - who has previously backed the revoking Article 50 in order to give the negotiations with the EU more time - said his beliefs "stand at odds with the current administration's impatient approach to getting Brexit done".
In a statement on his website he said: “I have no desire to become a disaffected, dissenting voice from the backbenches, undermining a government under whose colours I have been elected.
“So the current speculation that a general election may be imminent has forced me to reach the very difficult decision not to offer myself as your candidate for the next election.”
He said as a Conservative Party member for 35 years, coming to this conclusion has caused him “great distress and anxiety in recent weeks”.
Mr Field was first elected in 2001 and was minister for Asia and the Pacific from 2017 until earlier this year, when footage emerged of him manhandling a female climate change demonstrator at a speech by former Chancellor Philip Hammond.
The row over his use of force led to him being suspended as a minister in June, and when Boris Johnson took over as Prime Minister the following month he was sacked.
In his statement he added that he would be voting in favour of Mr Johnson’s new Brexit deal in Saturday’s crucial vote.
Mr Field was re-elected with a majority of just over 3,000 in 2017, but the Lib Dems believe they can seize the heavily Remain-supporting seat at the next election.
Reacting to Mr Field's announcement on Twitter, Chuka Umunna said: "Since I became our PPC I’ve met countless Tory voters with liberal, internationalist values flocking to the Lib Dems and Labour voters too keen to keep the Tories out. But we take nothing for granted - we are working hard for every vote in this overwhelmingly Remain constituency."