David Cameron will stand again as an MP at the next general election despite intending to step down as prime minister, he told BBC Radio Oxford this morning.
In an interview that otherwise focused on the EU referendum and the organisation of Oxfordshire’s county and district councils, Cameron was asked what his plans to stand down as prime minister before 2020 meant for his role as MP for Witney. The prime minister said that he “love[s] being MP for Witney and [is] very keen to continue”. Pressed on whether that was confirmation he would stand again at the next election, Cameron said: “That is very much my intention.”
Cameron admitted in a BBC interview in the run-up to the general election that he will not seek another term as prime minister, effectively firing the starting gun on the next Conservative leadership contest. He has been coy about when he will hand over the office, but reiterated in this morning’s interview that he would not resign immediately in the event of a victory for the Leave campaign in June’s EU referendum.
Few recent prime ministers have remained as MPs long after leaving office. Tony Blair stood down as MP for Sedgefield on the same day as he left Number 10, while Gordon Brown, John Major and Margaret Thatcher all left the Commons at the first possible general election. Jim Callaghan stood again for one more term in 1983 after his 1979 general election defeat, becoming “Father of the House” – the title given to longest continuously-serving MP.
Gordon Brown in particular attracted criticism for the frequency of his attendance in the Commons after leaving Downing Street. He participated in only 12.27 per cent of votes in the 2010-15 session, and rarely spoke in debates.