MARK Oaten says he may walk away from politics before the next general election - if he gets the "right offer".

In an exclusive interview with the Chronicle today (November 22)to mark the 10th anniversary of his landslide by-election victory, the Lib Dem MP revealed he and wife Belinda had also put their Bramdean home up for sale.

He said it was "time to move on".

Mr Oaten said he did not intend to trigger a by-election but "couldn't rule it out".

He said if the "right job and the right move" came up for him and his wife, he would "give it serious consideration".

The father-of-two said: "I hope people understand.

"There is so much uncertainty over when an election will be, that I also have to think of my future."

Mr Oaten, 43, resigned as Lib Dem Home Office spokesman last year after a Sunday tabloid newspaper exposed his relationship with a male prostitute, but remained MP for Winchester.

Mr Oaten said he did not miss front-bench politics, but did need a new sense of direction.

The MP revealed that he and Belinda are still having marriage guidance counselling and said they were "a really good team together".

Mr Oaten said he was "a lot calmer, fitter and a lot happier"

than when he was a Lib Dem leadership candidate, and the tabloid scandal threatened to wreck his marriage as well as his career.

The MP paid tribute to the support of his family, friends and constituents for helping him get his life back on track.

He admitted he had "never been a parliamentary man", but said one thing he did get right was changing how an MP worked locally.

Mr Oaten said he had kept his promise to be active and accountable locally, instead of a remote figure in Westminster.

But he revealed himself to be a reluctant politican.

He said: "I don't like the stereotype of the middle-aged, balding, fat politician, but that is what I had become."

* For the full interview, see today's Hampshire Chronicle (November 22).