Paul Burstow, who served as Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Sutton and Cheam for 18 years, has told his local party he has decided not to contest the next General Election.
In a letter to John Drage, the Chair of Sutton Lib Dems, Paul said he believed the local party now needed to recruit a new candidate to mobilise the membership, work with the councillors to retain control of the council in 2018 and to mount a successful challenge at the next General Election.
He said: “I had already decided some time ago that had I been re-elected in 2015 this would have been my last parliament and I would have been seeking new ways to contribute in the areas I care most about outside of Parliament.
“Over the past five months I have worked hard to set in place the beginnings of a number of roles in the health and social care sphere I have always cared so much about. At the start of October I joined City University as a part time Professor of Health and Social Care. In addition, from 1 November I have taken over as Chair of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust in north London.”
Paul Burstow continued: “I count myself very fortunate that before and since my selection in 1989 I have always enjoyed the friendship and support of so many local members. I said at the counting of votes in May that it has been an honour and privilege to have served as the Member of Parliament for Sutton and Cheam for 18 years. But now it is time for a new candidate.”
He said he would do all he could to support the local party as it embarked on that process and would want to do all he could to help his successor win in 2020.
John Drage paid tribute to the former Lib Dem MP.
He said: “Paul has been one of the hardest-working MPs in Parliament and that was recognised in an independent Evening Standard study during his term.
“As a Health Minister in the coalition government he was able to set in motion major improvements in the care of older people and mental health. It is great news that his knowledge and expertise in these areas will be harnessed by the new leadership roles he is taking up.”
Sutton Liberal Democrats are currently discussing the procedures for choosing a new prospective candidate to represent the constituency which covers Sutton, Cheam and Worcester Park.