David Cameron announces resignation: full transcript
Former prime minister David Cameron has announced he is standing down as an MP. Read his full comments below.
Speaking to ITV News, he said:
“With modern politics, with the circumstances of my resignation, it isn’t really possible to be a proper backbench MP as a former prime minister. I think everything you do will become a big distraction and a big diversion from what the Government needs to do for our country.
“And I support Theresa May, I think she’s got off to a great start, I think she can be a strong prime minister for our country and I don’t want to be that distraction – I want Witney to have a new MP who can play a full part in parliamentary and political life without being a distraction.
“I want to thank everybody here in West Oxfordshire who have been so supportive. It has been a great honour and privilege to serve this area and to serve these brilliant people. I’m going to go on living locally, I’ll go on supporting the local causes and local charities that make this such a great place in our country, but obviously I’ll have to build a life outside Westminster.
“I hope I’ll continue to contribute in terms of public service and of course contribute to this country that I love so much.”
Asked whether he was “snubbing” the new PM, he replied:
“I spoke to Theresa May and she was very understanding about this decision. I support her, I support what she’s doing, she’s got off to a cracking start. Obviously I’m going to have my own views about different issues – people would know that. And that’s really the point: as a former prime minister it is very difficult, I think, to sit as a backbencher and not be an enormous distraction and diversion from what the Government is doing. I don’t want to be that distraction; I want Witney to have an MP that can play a full role in parliamentary and political life in a way I think I would find very difficult if not impossible.”
Mr Cameron denied that he was resigning because he disagreed with the new government’s grammar schools policy.
“This decision has got nothing to do with any one individual issue and the timing in that way is, I promise, is coincidental. But it goes to a bigger picture, really, which is whatever the issue as a former prime minister being a backbench MP I think it is difficult just not to be a distraction, a diversion and therefore build a sort of reputation for yourself in politics that I don’t really want to have. I wish her well, I wish the Government well.
“In a way there’s a link to the decision to resign as prime minister. The country made a decision, a decision I advised against but nonetheless the decision has been made, I want the Government to successfully pursue that decision and to get it right. And as a result I think not being a backbencher but leaving Parliament is the right thing to do.”
He refused to be drawn when asked directly whether he supported Mrs May’s policy for new grammar schools.
“There’s very many good things in the policy. We actually when I was prime minister agreed to the expansion of grammar schools in areas where they already where, we set up sixth forms that were selective in our big cities as free schools, so lots of merit in the policy. But frankly I don’t want to get into the whys and wherefores of this individual policy...
“My announcement today is not about grammar schools. There’s no connection with grammar schools, it’s purely one of timing. My view is, as I’ve said, I don’t want to be the distraction and diversion that the former prime minister inevitably is on the backbenches.
“So it’s with a heavy heart because I love this part of the world, I’ve loved being an MP, I’m going to go on living here. Being a constituency MP is a great and fulfilling job but I’ve come to the conclusion that the best thing actually is to stand down.”
He accepted that the EU referendum would form a major part of his political legacy.
“I’m sure I will be remembered for keeping that pledge to hold a referendum when many people thought that promise would never be kept but I hope that people will look back at the 11 years I was leader of the Conservative party and six years as prime minister of our country as a time when we did create a stronger economy – a thousand people found work for every day I was prime minister – and we did make some important social reforms, some of which you mentioned, and the Conservative party went from being in the doldrums and getting beaten to being a modernising winning force in British politics. But the historians will have to work all that out. I obviously now am going to be looking at a new life, but I’m only 49 – I hope I can still contribute in terms of public service and contribute to our country.”
On his future, he said:
“I haven’t made firm decisions, I need to look at all of that. The only firm decision I’ve made is to leave the House of Commons and stop being an MP – as I say, with a heavy heart because I’ve loved the jobs but I don’t think it works for a former prime minister who resigned in my circumstances and with all the new government needs to do.
“Issues for the future. I’ll decide them in the future and, hopefully, as I say, continue to make some service and some public service contribution to this country. I want to continue campaigning on the local, national and indeed international issues that were part of my prime ministership where I think we made some good progress. There’s still a lot more to be done.”