Former Conservative Party chairman Sir Brian Mawhinney has announced he is standing down as an MP at the next election.
Mawhinney was at the forefront in the last years of Major's government
The MP for North West Cambridgeshire says that at the age of 65 it is time to go.
Sir Brian has been keeping a low profile in self-imposed retirement on the back benches since 1998.
Announcing his retirement, he told BBC Radio Cambridgeshire: "It's the right decision to make but it's going to be a big change in my life.
"I've always enjoyed the constituency work - I shall miss that - and I've made a point to serve my constituency.
"I will continue to be a member of the Conservative Party and will serve them when they need me."
First elected in 1979, Sir Brian entered the Thatcher government as a junior Northern Ireland minister in 1986 and remained there until 1992.
He gained a reputation as a "safe pair of hands" and was later parachuted into two troubled ministries, health and transport, to help with unpopular reforms.
His fixing skills found their greatest test when he served as Conservative chairman under John Major's premiership for the two years up to the 1997 election.
His response to the role of holding together a disintegrating party was to turn his fire on Labour and he became immensely partisan.
After a brief stint as shadow home secretary under William Hague, he resigned from the shadow cabinet and pursued more interests outside Parliament.
Those have included being chairman of the Nationwide football league.