Mr Field, who announced his candidature after Mr Major resigned his position in June but who withdrew when the former Secretary of State for Wales, John Redwood, entered the ring, is suffering from a stress disorder. He is known as a right-winger on law and order issues and is against any lowering of the age of consent for homosexuals.
The 49 year-old MP for the Isle of Wight, who is also a director of his family's undertaking business, said yesterday that he had been feeling unwell for some time. "I have suffered from stress and memory loss and a loss of feeling in some of my fingers. I had some tests with a consultant neurologist and he confirmed that I had a stress-related illness," he said.
Mr Field's agent, Maurice Cook, said both the MP and his constituency association were disappointed by the decision, which he had taken "with great reluctance".
The search for a successor to Mr Field as the Tory candidate will begin immediately and will be completed by next month. However, the seat is far from safe with a Conservative majority of just 1,800 and an electorate of 100,000. It would be lost to the Liberal Democrats on a swing of 1 per cent.Reuse content