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Last Updated: Monday, 8 October 2007, 09:14 GMT 10:14 UK
Ann Widdecombe set to stand down
Ann Widdecombe
Ann Widdecombe has enjoyed a controversial political career
Former shadow home secretary Ann Widdecombe has confirmed she will end her 20-year political career at the next general election.

Miss Widdecombe, 60, announced she would not be standing for re-election in the Kent constituency of Maidstone and the Weald.

It follows Gordon Brown's decision not to call an autumn election.

She said: "I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have made the last 20 years so rewarding."

'Toothy, dumpy, ugly'

Ann Noreen Widdecombe became notorious for her eccentric appearance and her tough and hard-hitting political style.

She once said of herself: "I am toothy, dumpy, ugly, overweight, a spinster - what the hell."

She has often been the target of unkind remarks both from colleagues and the press, but has taken them unflinchingly.

Ann Widdecombe
Born in Bath, 1947
Elected to Maidstone and The Weald in 1987
Resigned from the Tory front bench in 2001

She has had two major political spats with her own party members.

The first was when she famously said former Tory leader Michael Howard had "something of the night about him".

The other was in 2001 with Michael Portillo during his campaign to become party leader and his allies, whom she called "backbiters".

She said, had he won, she would never have given him her allegiance.

Miss Widdecombe attended the Royal Naval School Singapore and the La Sainte Union Convent in Bath.

She went on to earn degrees in Latin and Politics, Philosophy and Economics from Birmingham University and Oxford University.

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