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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 April, 2005, 18:31 GMT 19:31 UK
Looking back on 21 years as an MP
Virginia Bottomley
Virginia Bottomley has been a Tory backbencher since 1997
After 21 years as an MP, Virginia Bottomley now plans to spend her time looking after her grandchildren and helping her husband's political career.

Mrs Bottomley held the Surrey South West constituency for the Conservatives from 1984 onwards and was also a cabinet minister during the 1990s.

She announced her plans to stand down at this general election in April 2002.

The Tories have a slim majority in Surrey South West (861 or 1.7%) and their new candidate is Jeremy Hunt.

Speaking about her farewell to Parliament, Mrs Bottomley said: "It is strange after so many years and of course I'm energetically supporting my successor."

'Political flack'

As well as her constituency work over two decades, she was both health secretary and national heritage secretary in John Major's government.

She entered the cabinet in 1992 and described it as "a great honour".

Reflecting on that high-profile period in her life, Mrs Bottomley said: "In spite of the political flack, they were very important years, those years working with John Major, with Michael Howard and Malcolm Rifkind.

"The colleagues and the allies and the things that we all did and worked for and cared about - I'm sure when I go to my grave I'll still think of those years as some of the most worthwhile and valuable."

Peter Bottomley
Peter Bottomley holds Worthing West with a 20.9% majority

She has returned to her previous role of campaigning for her husband, Peter Bottomley, the Conservative candidate for Worthing West who has held the seat since 1997.

Mrs Bottomley said she also plans to take on the "grandmother role" for her four grandchildren.

"My daughter's a doctor and has to work at weekends. When you work at weekends, there's only one person to look after the grandchildren, and that's granny.

"I was able to have a public life involving pretty unsocial hours, and put all our children through to university, because I had grandmothers in support."

Mrs Bottomley's replacement as MP for Surrey South West will be chosen from five candidates.

They are: Timothy Clark (UK Independence Party), Simon Cordon (Liberal Democrats), Jeremy Hunt (Conservative), Glenn Platt (Veritas) and Tom Sleigh (Labour).

Standing against Peter Bottomley in Worthing West are: Chris Baldwin (Legalise Cannabis Alliance), Antony Bignell (Labour), Tim Cross (UK Independence Party) and Claire Potter (Liberal Democrats).



Virginia Bottomley to stand down
11 Apr 02 |  Politics