Conservatives in Lancashire have said they are “shocked” after Lorraine Fullbrook, Member of Parliament for South Ribble, announced that she is to stand down as an MP at the next General Election.
The MP made the announcement at a meeting held at Leyland Conservative Club, citing “personal reasons” behind her decision.
Mrs Fulbrook said in her speech in front of the 50 plus Conservative members in attendance; “By May 2015, I will have given 12 years of my life to winning and serving this seat.
“That is long enough in this job, and now, I will be looking to conquer fresh challenges.”
And the MP was keen to stress she would not simply be resigning, and would be continuing her role for the next two years, adding; “I will remain, carrying out my duties to my constituents, full time and fully committed as the Conservative Member of Parliament for South Ribble until my successor is elected in May 2015.”
County Councillor for West Lancashire North, Malcolm Barron said before Mrs Fulbrook’s announcement on Friday night, he had urged party members to get behind the MP and back her in the forthcoming elections.
Councillor Barron said; “I didn’t expect the announcement at all, in fact, we had just worked out a strategy for the next two years.
“Lorraine is a very good MP and had helped me and other council members a tremendous amount with issues in our area that could have only been tackled by somebody with her standing.
“She is so well liked by the Government it’s going to be very hard to replace her.”
He continued; “The party members at Friday’s meeting were very shocked and many of them offered their commiserations to Lorraine.
“Some even urged her to reconsider but, sadly, the letter had already been sent to Mr Cameron.”
Speaking after the meeting Mrs Fulbrook expressed her gratitude at being an MP for South Ribble.
She said: “It is a huge honour and a privilege to serve the people of South Ribble and sit on the Green benches.
“This has not been an easy decision but the right one for me.
“ I want to re-assure my constituents that this announcement will not in any way compromise the way in which I carry out my duties.
“I will continue to work hard for residents in South Ribble right up until my successor is elected.”
Councillor Barron said; “Lorraine will be remembered by the party as a woman with a wonderful personality and someone who overturned a large Labour majority to become an MP.
“She is an excellent speaker and was just a real personality for the Conservatives.
“Lorraine always got on well with her constituents and held many surgeries so that she could meet with the people in her community.
“We are very grateful that she will be staying on as an MP until the next general election and has reassured us that she will be tying up all loose ends as well as offering her help to her successor.
“She’s not abandoning us.”