CONSERVATIVE Tony Baldry MP has announced he will stand down at the next General Election.
In a statement Sir Tony said: "One of the consequences of now having five year fixed term Parliaments is that if I succeed in being re-elected at the forthcoming general election, given my age, most people will assume that Parliament will be my last.
"I think this creates a danger that I may be unable to be as effective as I would wish to be; and that the constituency will be distracted from more important issues by the need to choose my successor.
"So after careful thought over the summer recess and discussions with my family, I have decided to stand down at the next General Election.
"I do so fully confident that the Prime Minister and the Conservative Party will win the next General Election and fully confident that the North Oxfordshire Conservative Association will select an excellent person to succeed me as the Conservative candidate for the constituency.
"By the next General Election, I will have served as the MP for North Oxfordshire for nearly a third of a century and will be the longest serving MP for the constituency since the Great Reform Bill.
"It is an enormous privilege to represent the people of North Oxfordshire in Parliament. I will always be extremely grateful for the friendship and support that I have had from so many constituents over so many years.
"It goes without saying that I shall continue to work as hard as possible for my constituents until this Parliament is prorogued next year."
There is no candidate 'lined up' to take over from Banbury MP Sir Tony Baldry, the North Oxfordshire Conservative Association has said.
Chris Rowland, the election agent for the association, has said its executive committee will meet in the near future to set out a timetable for the selection.
He said: "At this stage it is anyone's game. We should have a candidate by the end of the year at the latest and I envisage that we would have someone by late November.
"The news has just come through and it has come as a surprise to everyone but I think we can understand his reasons."
Conservative county councillor Arash Fatemian, who represents Deddington in the Banbury constituency, has today stood down from Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet to focus on his career and family.
Do you want alerts delivered straight to your phone via our WhatsApp service? Text NEWS or SPORT or NEWS AND SPORT, depending on which services you want, and your full name to 07767 417704. Save our number into your phone's contacts as Oxford Mail WhatsApp and ensure you have WhatsApp installed.