`I am not leaving my party. My party has left me'

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The Independent Online
EDITED EXTRACTS from Shaun Woodward's letter to William Hague:

"Dear William,

It is with great regret that I must inform you of my decision to resign the Conservative whip and my membership of the Conservative Party with immediate effect. Obviously it follows that I will not wish to put myself forward as the Conservative candidate in Witney at the next General Election.

Of course, it is also right to inform you that with immediate effect I intend to ask to take the Labour whip. After a period of very serious reflection, there is no longer any doubt in my mind that New Labour now more embodies the values for which I entered politics and that I represented to prospective constituents at the last General Election in Witney ...

I can no longer support the increasingly right-wing policies of the Conservative Party, which you and your colleagues have adopted over the last two and a half years ...

On Europe, we have thrown away the sensible policies of John Major, an approach which was guided by his desire to secure the best for Britain ...

You would apparently hold the rest of Europe to ransom ...

It is not me who is leaving my Party. My Party has left me ...

My former Association should have as much time as possible between now and the next General Election to find a candidate who can represent the now very right-wing views of this once great Party of centre-ground politics ...

Yours ever,

Shaun"

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