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The BBC's Caroline Quinn
"Not always popular but always controversial"
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Michael Heseltine, MP
"I'm too busy to do the job of a backbencher"
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The BBC's Mark Mardell
Heseltine once said, "he who wields the knife never wears the crown"
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Thursday, 27 April, 2000, 18:23 GMT 19:23 UK
Tributes as Heseltine bows out

Heseltine was a Tory favourite at conference time
Conservatives have been paying tribute to the former Deputy Prime Minister Michael Heseltine who has announced his decision to stand down as an MP at the next general election after 34 years in Parliament.

Tory leader William Hague described the Henley MP as "a serious heavyweight politician".

Mr Heseltine suprised the Tory party leadership by announcing his intention to stand down on the BBC's Today programme.

He is a great character and we will miss him in the House of Commons where he always makes a big contribution

William Hague
Tory leader
He said he was by nature unsuited to being a backbench MP waiting for the whips' instructions.

"I know that I will never serve in another Conservative government and I'm just not that good at sitting around," Mr Heseltine said.

Mr Hague denied he was happy to see Mr Heseltine go, saying they had enjoyed good personal relations.

"We have had a disagreement over Europe, but we haven't had many other disagreements," he said.

'Warrior against communism'

"He is a great character and we will miss him in the House of Commons where he always makes a big contribution as a serious heavyweight politician."

Tory Party chairman Michael Ancram said Mr Heseltine had paid an "immense contribution" to Conservatism and described him as "a warrior in the battle against communism and socialism".

"He has always been a star turn at the party conference, both in the hall and on the fringe," Mr Ancram said in a statement.

Mr Heseltine, who dramatically resigned from Margaret Thatcher's cabinet over the Westland affair, said he had already spoken to his constituency party chairman about his decision in private.

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," he said.

People living in Mr Heseltine's Henley constituency were supportive of his decision to stand down.

Patrick Godfrey, a former party branch chairman, said the area would miss Mr Heseltine.

"But it is time he made room for a younger man," he said.

Constituency chairman Howard Green said Mr Heseltine had served his constituents loyally and effectively.

"It's always somewhat emotional when a major personality like Michael, who has represented this constituency for so long, steps down," he said.

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.

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

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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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