MacKay to step down at next general election

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Tory MP Andrew MacKay announced today he would stand down at the next general election after discussing his position with Conservative leader David Cameron this morning.

The Bracknell MP denied that the heavy barracking he received from constituents at a public meeting last night had anything to do with the decision.

He said that he did not want to be a "distraction" for the Tories going into the next election.

"I understand why people are angry," he said. "I hope my decision to step down goes some way to showing my constituents how sorry I am about my own situation."

Mr MacKay was forced to resign as Mr Cameron's Parliamentary aide earlier this month after it emerged he had been claiming second homes expenses on a property his wife, fellow Tory MP Julie Kirkbride, declared as her main home.

The taxpayer had effectively been subsidising both of their properties.

He sought to quell uproar among his constituents last night, only to be jeered and shouted down. Television footage showed him being angrily challenged outside the meeting afterwards.

His decision to quit as an MP came after Mr Cameron telephoned him this morning.

"Following a conversation with David Cameron this morning I have decided to step down as candidate for Bracknell at the next general election," Mr MacKay said.

"I believe I could be a distraction at a time when he is working to get elected as prime minister with the good working majority necessary to take the tough decisions to turn this country around.

"I would never forgive myself if my candidature distracted voters from the key issues and particularly David's rousing call for change.

"It has been both a privilege and huge fun to represent the people of Bracknell for 26 years.

"My decision is not as a result of last night's meeting - at which I was grateful for the robust support of my local party and many constituents - and I would urge my colleagues to continue to hold their own public meetings."