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UK Politics

Tory MP becomes latest to quit Commons

Conservative Ian Taylor has become the latest MP to step down following the expenses scandal, it emerged today.

The Esher and Walton MP announced his intention not to stand at the next general election last night.

In a letter to Olga Denyer, president of the Esher and Walton Conservative Association Executive Committee, the MP wrote: "Departures should occasion tears of regret rather than sighs of relief.

"So for my part it is with sadness that I am informing you that I wish to stand down as MP for Esher and Walton at the next General Election.

"It has been an honour and a pleasure to have served the constituency within both its boundaries for 22 years so far."

In the letter, which was also sent to David Cameron and Patrick McLoughlin, chief whip of the Conservative Party, Mr Taylor said there were "several factors" behind his decision.

Mr Taylor became embroiled in the expenses controversy when the Daily Telegraph revealed he had a second home in London even though his main home is in the capital's commuter belt.

In his resignation letter, the MP defended his decision not to live in Esher and Walton.

"It is clear ... that many constituents have little concept of what an MP does or where his attention should be focused," he wrote.

"There has been some criticism of me recently for my failure to 'commute' rather than on the substance of whether I hold views and or take actions on key matters on behalf of constituents.

"This debases the whole system. It implies that an MP should seek to be around locally more than around Westminster.

"That is not the correct balance and it is not one I wish to endorse."

The MP insisted that he commutes "most weeks", spending Friday, Saturday and Sunday "in and around the constituency".

Mr Taylor, 64, also highlighted a shift in public attitudes towards MPs as a reason for his decision and said he was likely to be past retirement age when Gordon Brown called the next general election.

But he acknowledged a decline in public confidence saying: "We need to be more open and transparent to rebuild trust, as well as explaining better the duties of Parliamentarians."

Today he said the decision was one he had been "pondering for a while" and said Gordon Brown's refusal to step down was the "decisive factor" in his resignation.

"It was clear that we would not have an election until next year, that's what brought it to a head," he said.