By Harry Phibbs
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Lorraine Fullbrook, the Conservative MP for Ribble South, has announced that she is standing down at the General Election.
The message on her website placed last night says:
Lorraine Fullbrook has announced that she will stand down as an MP at the next General Election in May 2015. Lorraine informed her Association Executive of her decision at their meeting this evening, held at Leyland Conservative Club (the same place that Lorraine was selected as South Ribble's Conservative Candidate back in 2003).
Citing personal reasons, Lorraine informed the Association that she had written to the Prime Minister this morning advising him of her decision. She pledged her continued support for both her constituents and the Prime Minister: "I intend to both serve out my term as a loyal and dedicated member of your Parliamentary team, and as a committed constituency Member."
In her speech, Lorraine explained her decision and confirmed that she would be working on behalf of her constituents right up until the General Election. "By May 2015, I will have given 12 years of my life to winning and serving this seat. That is long enough in this job, and now, I will be looking to conquer fresh challenges."
"I will remain, carrying out my duties to my constituents, full time and fully committed as the Conservative Member of Parliament for South Ribble until my successor is elected in May 2015."
Speaking after the meeting this evening Lorraine said: "It is a huge honour and a privilege to serve the people of South Ribble and sit on the Green benches. This has not been an easy decision but the right one for me. I want to re-assure my constituents that this announcement will not in any way compromise the way in which I carry out my duties.
"I will continue to work hard for residents in South Ribble right up until my successor is elected."
Mrs Fullbrook suffered from some ill health last year. However I am assured she is now a good health. It is just that she doesn't want to be an MP for the rest of her working life.
At the last General Election she gained the seat from Labour with a majority of 5,554. It was an excellent result with a swing of 8.1 per cent, compared to a swing of five per cent nationally.
No doubt her husband Mark gave her a few tips. He knows a thing or two about campaigning as MD of Crosby Textor.
The constituency remains a key battleground. Labour have it on their official list of target seats. However by choosing a 24-year-old Sefton councillor as their candidate it is doubtful how serious they are.
By making her announcement now Mrs Fullbrook has given the South Ribble Conservatives good time to choose a new candidate. There is likely to be stiff competition.
Mrs Fullbrook was director of Women2Win encouraging more women to be Conservative candidates and thus contributing to the increase in the number of women Conservative MPs from 17 to 48 not merely with her own victory but with helping many others.
She was also a reforming leader of Hart Council in 2004 holding down the Council Tax and challenging the John Prescott over the bureuacratic burdens the Labour Government was imposing.
As an MP she serves on the Home Affairs Select Committee – proving a fearless interrogator.
Good luck to her in whatever the future holds.