Michael Portillo to stand down at next election

Conservative MP Michael Portillo, long tipped as a potential party leader, has declared that he will not be seeking re-election to Westminster at the next election.

In a statement issued by his constituency office on Friday afternoon, Mr Portillo said that he had been considering his future for some time and had now decided that his future lay outside the House of Commons.

He said: "In a number of ways I have lost my enthusiasm for the cut and thrust of the chamber and my contribution has diminished."

The MP for Kensington and Chelsea said that he was "keen to explore other opportunities in the media, public bodies and the arts".

The announcement followed on news that the newly installed Conservative leader Michael Howard had deferred naming his shadow cabinet.

Amid tense negotiations today following the years of near constant internecine strife within the Tory party, it is understood that Mr Portillo was offered a post but declined to accept it.

Mr Howard is expected to appoint his team next week.


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