Here is the full text of Francis Maude’s note sent to party members in Horsham last night, and the accompanying letter to his Association Chairman announcing his intention to leave the Commons at the General Election (the letter itself appears in its original format below):
I wanted to let you now before you read it in the papers on Sunday that I have today written to our chairman to inform him that I will not be standing for re-election in the upcoming election. The letter, attached below, sets out the reasons. This will be a sad moment for me, as I have been privileged to have eighteen happy years as the local MP. But the time comes with all things to move on and I have no doubt that this is the right decision.
I just wanted to thank you personally for all your support over the years. I’m sure my successor, whoever he or she may be, will be able to count on the same level of support, so that Horsham can continue to return a Conservative MP with a thumping majority.
All good wishes, and thank you.
This is to let you know that I have decided not to seek re-election in May. By then I will have been MP for Horsham for 18 years, following nine years previously as MP for North Warwickshire. I was first elected to the House of Commons in 1983 just before I was thirty, and will be nearly 67 by the time of the election in 2020. Public service continues to exercise great appeal. However, 27 years is a long time to serve as a Member of Parliament, and I believe now is the right time to make way for a younger candidate to carry the Conservative flag in Horsham. I will of course give unstinting support to the Association’s choice to succeed me.
It has been a huge privilege to serve as Horsham’s MP since 1997. I am enormously grateful to you and to our local party members for such tremendous support over that period. It has been a pleasure to work with you all. I love this part of West Sussex, which has been my family home for nearly twenty years, and where our children have grown up; and it has been a real honour to serve its people.
In 1985 Margaret Thatcher first appointed me to her Government. I served in the DTI, then as Minister for Europe, and as Financial Secretary to the Treasury. After my return to the House of Commons as MP for Horsham, I joined the Shadow Cabinet, serving as Shadow Chancellor and Shadow Foreign Secretary before being appointed as Party Chairman in 2005.
Since 2010 I have served as the Minister for the Cabinet Office, designing and driving a programme which saved taxpayers £14.3 billion last year alone, compared to Labour’s last year in office. We have shrunk the Civil Service by a fifth, got out of property over 26 times the size of Buckingham Palace, while halving our spend on advertising and cutting the number of quangos by a third. We set up the Government Digital Service, now being copied in the United States and Australia, which has replaced hundreds of websites with the award-winning GOV.UK, moving services online and cutting the costs of government IT while hugely improving the service. I’ve worked closely with our brilliant Chancellor to drive these reforms, but there is much to do – before the election and after – to ensure that the reforms are irreversible.
I am increasingly optimistic that the Conservative Party under David Cameron’s strong and visionary leadership will form the government after 7th May. This election will offer the country a simple choice between this Conservative competence and Labour chaos. We need to stick to our long-term economic plan to keep growing the economy, creating more jobs in Horsham and across the country, and paying down the deficit so our children have the best possible future.
Thank you again for your support and that of party members and staff. It has contributed greatly to the pleasure of serving as Horsham’s MP.
I also owe a huge debt of gratitude to Christina and our children, who have given me such great support over the years.
Peter Hoskin’s summary of Maude’s achievements in Government can be read here.