A veteran Tory MP last night announced he would be stepping down at the next general election. Richard Ottaway, the MP for Croydon South, told his constituency party: “I feel now is the right time to call it a day.”
His move will intensify speculation that Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, could make a return to the Commons in 2015, for an eventual bid for the Conservative leadership.
Mr Ottaway’s Croydon South seat is one of those mooted as a possible parliamentary berth for Mr Johnson. The seat was held at the last election by a margin of almost 16,000 votes.
Former Royal Navy officer Mr Ottaway, 67, first entered the House of Commons in 1983 as MP for Nottingham North, but lost the seat in 1987 and has represented Croydon South since 1992.
After the 2010 election, he became the first elected chair of the influential House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee, and he also chaired the all-party parliamentary group for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
His private member's bill to clamp down on metal theft by regulating the scrap metal trade is currently going through Parliament.
Announcing his decision to stand down at a meeting of his local party in Purley, south London, last night, Mr Ottaway said he wanted to spend more time with his family and enjoying his hobbies.
But he added: "Today is far from the end of the road for me - there's plenty of important work to be getting on with in Parliament and in my constituency.
"I will be working at full speed, right up to the general election when I hope David Cameron will be re-elected as prime minister of a Conservative government. He's the right man to be leading the party and the country."
Expectations of Mr Ottaway's retirement have led to Mr Johnson's name being linked with the Croydon South seat. But he poured cold water on speculation of a swift return to the Commons earlier this month by stating categorically that he would not stand as an MP until after his second term as Mayor was complete in 2016.