Fareham MP Mark Hoban is quitting Parliament.
Mr Hoban, who has been the MP for Fareham since 2001, confirmed to The News today he will not contest the next general election.
He said today: ‘On one side, its sad to be standing down. On the other hand, I am looking forward to a new challenge.
‘It’s a job that I have been doing for many years and it’s been great.
‘I think I have been very lucky serving on the front bench in Parliament as treasurer and DWP in both roles.
‘I have been lucky to be a front bencher. I have made some great friendships amongst MPs.
‘I would say thank for all of the support from the voters. This has been a Conservative seat for many years. We have achieved that hard work, energy and devotion.
‘I will absolutely support the next parliamentary candidate. I have always been a team player and will do all I can to help win this seat.
In a letter to Tom Fyfe, the chairman of Fareham Conservatives, Mr Hoban said:
‘After 14 years in parliament I believe that it is time to start a new chapter in my life so I have decided not to re-stand in May’s general election.
‘This has been a difficult decision but the right one. It is time to turn a new page and take on some new challenges.
‘It has been a privilege to have been the member of parliament for Fareham since 2001.
‘In that time, together we have more than doubled the majority. I have been able to help thousands of residents with their problems.
‘We have much to be proud of in Fareham.’
Mr Hoban was appointed as minister for employment in September 2012 but was stripped of the role in 2013.
In the letter he added: ‘As minister for employment, I drove the performance of our back-to-work programmes helping more people find jobs and secure their future.
‘Returning to the backbenches has given me the opportunity to campaign on local issues, such as A&E and diabetes care.
‘But it is time to move on and embrace new opportunities.
‘Whoever succeeds me in Fareham will, as I have, love both the place and the people.’
Fellow Tory MP Penny Mordaunt (Portsmouth North) praised the work of Mr Hoban, saying that she was sad to see him step down and would miss working with him at Parliament.
She said: ‘I’m a huge fan of Mark, he was always kind and open to me when I was a candidate for Portsmouth North.’
‘He gave me lots of good advice and has been a great friend and I will miss him.
‘He has been helpful in bringing together all the MPs in the area to really face the problems at QA Hospital. He also served as a government minister in many different jobs and has served well.
‘He is still young and sometimes people have to step down for something fresh, which I think is important. I’m sure he will go on to do some amazing things.
‘If I win the seat again in May,I will be looking to work with whoever is going to be MP.
‘I think what we can see is that there is a lot of variety for people to vote for. I look forward to learning who that will be.’
The leader of Fareham Borough Council, Sean Woodward said that he has not considered standing for Parliamentary candidate for the area.
Cllr Woodward said: ‘I haven’t considered on standing for Fareham as we have only recently found out about this.
‘I think Mark has been a great asset for Fareham and the country. He was competent in everything he did.
‘He was great at getting everyone to work together and our working relationship was very complimentary.
‘Whoever gets this seat in May, I think that the constituents will be looking for someone who encourages people to work together and wants the best for the area.’
Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage said: ‘I have known Mark for a really long time and we go back to when we were going for parliamentary selection.
‘He was so helpful in all of my work and when I was campaigning for the Gosport area.
‘It has been a brilliant 14 years for him and has been a demanding role which he has done well.
‘I don’t think a job as an MP is forever any more, I shall look forward to working with whoever is his successor.
‘Fareham has always been a strong [Conservative] seat and I think it is even more so with the way Mark is leaving it in.’