The Liberal Democrat MP and former minister Jeremy Browne will stand down from Parliament at the next election. He has represented Taunton Deane since 2005.
Browne has served as both a junior Foreign Office minister and a junior Home Office minister since the formation of the coalition in 2010, but returned to the backbenches after a reshuffle in 2013.
By standing down, he opens up a potentially three-way race in his south-west seat – Browne currently has a majority of 3,993, but the constituency has been held by all three major parties since the Second World War.
In his resignation letter to his local party, Browne writes:
I have come to the conclusion that in national politics my race is run. I have enjoyed writing two books in the past year exploring the strategic and ideological choices confronting both the Liberal Democrats and the United Kingdom. My views have been well rehearsed and I do not wish to add any more.”
Browne, who is generally considered to be on the right of his party, has previously been considered a potential leadership challenger to Nick Clegg. Speaking to the NS political editor George Eaton a couple of weeks ago, Browne addressed the question of leadership in his party:
I don’t have massive personal ambitions. It’s a big sacrifice being the leader of a political party.” But he adds: “It’s essential that that choice is one that the party has. It’s actually essential that it’s one that the party adopts but it can’t adopt it if it doesn’t have [the choice].” He adds: “Now, if someone else can do that better than me, that’s great.” And if they can’t? “We’ll see,” he replies in his low baritone.