Former UK Prime Minister David Cameron has announced he is standing down as a member of parliament, ending a 15-year career as a British lawmaker, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Mr. Cameron said in a statement released by his office that he didn’t want his presence in parliament to be a distraction for the UK’s new administration, led by Prime Minister Theresa May.
“In my view, the circumstances of my resignation as prime minister and the realities of modern politics make it very difficult to continue on the backbenches without the risk of becoming a diversion to the important decisions that lie ahead for my successor in Downing Street and the government,” Mr. Cameron said.
Mr. Cameron served as British premier from 2010 until late June, when he resigned from the post after losing a referendum on Britain’s continued membership of the European Union. The 49-year-old had led the campaign to preserve the UK’s membership, but Britons sided with those advocating Britain’s exit, or so-called Brexit, by 52% to 48%.
Mr. Cameron said his resignation would take effect immediately. He is the member of parliament for Witney in Oxfordshire, England, a seat long held by the ruling Conservative Party. His resignation will trigger a special election to replace him.
In an interview Monday with broadcaster ITV News, he said that he believed Mrs. May was “off to a cracking start” as prime minister and denied his decision reflected policy differences with his successor. He said that although voters made a decision in June’s EU referendum that he disagreed with, he hoped the government would make a success of exiting from the bloc.
Mr. Cameron added that he hoped to remain in public service in Britain, although he said he didn’t have any firm plans.
Mrs. May said in a statement that she was proud to serve in Mr. Cameron’s government, adding that “under his leadership we achieved great things.” In particular, she praised him for stabilising the economy in the aftermath of the global financial crisis and his efforts at social reform.
Mr. Cameron, who argued ahead of the referendum that leaving the EU would destroy Britain’s economy and diminish its standing in the word, said in June after the UK’s historic vote that the country needed fresh leadership to steer it outside of the EU. He said he was proud his government had turned around the UK economy and created jobs and that his government had pushed through legislation that allowed same-sex couples to marry.
Just a year earlier, Mr. Cameron had led his party to its best showing in a general election in more than two decades on the back of a promise that he would offer the public a vote on the Europe issue if his Conservative Party won a majority. In part, pledging to hold a referendum was a way of appeasing members of his party, which has been split over the UK’s relationship with Europe for years. He also sought to fend off a threat from a small rival, the anti-EU UK Independence Party, which had siphoned away votes from Mr. Cameron’s centre-right Conservatives.
Mr. Cameron was elected to Parliament in 2001 and ascended the Conservative ranks. He became party leader in 2005, urging the party to stop “banging on” about Europe.