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The BBC's Carolyn Quinn
"Michael Heseltine has revelled in his Action Man image"
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Michael Heseltine, MP
"I'm too busy to do the job of a backbencher"
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Thursday, 27 April, 2000, 07:23 GMT 08:23 UK
Heseltine bows out

Heseltine was a Tory favourite at conference time
The former Deputy Prime Minister Michael Heseltine is stepping down as an MP at the next general election.

Mr Heseltine told the BBC of his intention to stand down after 34 years in Parliament, saying that he was by nature unsuited to being a backbench MP waiting for the whips' instructions.

Responding to the news, party leader William Hague denied that he was happy to see Mr Heseltine go and described the former cabinet minister as an "immense political character".

Another member of the Conservative old guard, the former prime minister John Major has already announced he too will step down at the next election.

Mr Heseltine said he had already spoken to his constituency party chariman about his decision in private.

He told the BBC: "I felt it would not be right now for me to seek reselection as the Conservative candidate for Henley at the next election.

Heseltine campaigned for the euro with the prime minister
"It's a big decision, it's a sad decision, but when a man's got to go a man's got to go."

Mr Heseltine insisted that he would carry on campaigning for British entry into the euro once he leaves Parliament.

He also said he wishes to spend more time with his business interests, including the publishing group Haymarket.

Mr Heseltine, who dramatically resigned from Margaret Thatcher's cabinet over the Westland affair, acknowledged that he had come to the conclusion he would not serve in any future Tory government.

But denied he had major differences with his party leader William Hague, except on the single currency.

He said: "There are things I want to do which are not compatible with being lobby fodder."

And he added that although he had not informed Mr Hague of his decision: "My guess is William won't be too upset."

Paying tribute to a man who is often described as one of the 'big beasts' of the Tory jungle, Mr Hague said: "His achievements in the last government, as Secretary of State for Defence, in the regeneration of the [London] Docklands, the work that he did on Merseyside, were the achievements of an extremely capable and talented minister."

While Mr Heseltine will be bowing out of politics, his keenly-awaited autobiography is expected to be published in September, ahead of the Conservative Party conference.

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See also:

27 Apr 00 | UK Politics
Heseltine: Political CV
10 Mar 00 | UK Politics
Major to stand down
01 Aug 99 | UK Politics
Heseltine backs Blair's euro campaign
11 Oct 99 | UK Politics
Heseltine warns of Eurosceptic threat
27 Apr 00 | UK Politics
The big beast will roam free
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