Sir Henry Bellingham is to stand down as North West Norfolk’s MP after 36 years’ service.
His announcement this week came days after he pulled out of a bid to become the next speaker of the House of Commons.
In a statement, Sir Henry (pictured) said: “At the age of 64 I still feel I am at the top of my game, and every day I still have a passion and enthusiasm for this job.
“However, the question I have been asking myself, is will I still have this when I am fast approaching 70?
“I also take the view that it is much better to leave when people are politely saying you should be staying, rather than, “poor old Henry seems to have lost his drive and enthusiasm, so isn’t about time you found someone younger”?”
The former barrister was first elected as MP for North West Norfolk in 1983, lost his seat in 1997, but regained it in 2001. He said after he was re-elected in 2017, it had always been his intention to serve a full Parliament to 2022.
However, Sir Henry said there was never an “ideal time” to stand down, but the forthcoming election was going to be “overwhelmingly about national issues”.
He paid tribute to all of his members and supporters for their loyalty and to the thousands of constituents “without whose votes I would never have been returned to Parliament,” he said.
Ian Sherwood, agent for the North West Conservative Association, said members were “saddened to hear of the decision of our long-serving member of parliament”.
“I am sure all the members will all want to thank Sir Henry for his long service to the North West Norfolk parliamentary constituency.
“We are 37 days away to go until the general election, the association is now charged with one of its most important roles in selecting a new Conservative parliamentary candidate.”
Mr Sherwood confirmed the selection process began on Tuesday and was due to be completed on Friday, November 15.
Meanwhile, current South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss, is to fight for re-election as voters go to the polls on Thursday, December 12.
It has also been announced Jo Rust has been selected as the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for North West Norfolk and the Labour Party.