STEVE Brine has announced that he will leave the House of Commons at the next General Election.

The MP for Winchester and Chandler’s Ford and chairman of the Commons health and social care committee, who was first elected in 2010, said it was time to consider “a new chapter” in his life.

At the last election, his majority was 985, down from 9,999 at the previous election.

In a letter to the chairman of Winchester Conservative Association, Matthew Pellereau, he said: “When I first entered Parliament I had in my mind to serve for twenty years - or four General Elections - whichever came first.

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“This wasn’t a hard and fast rule, and I don’t think anyone could have predicted the events of the past thirteen years, but it feels like the right time now, for both myself and the family.

“Going forward, I feel I can pursue some of the issues I care about - in health and perhaps elsewhere - outside Parliament as well as within.

“During my time as our MP, Susie and I have had two wonderful children and I’ve put my heart and soul into doing the job. My team and I have done tens of thousands of pieces of casework to-date and that quietly remains the bedrock of my work for the people I represent. But that has all come at a price; being away several nights every week, working at pace across this vast constituency when I am home plus every weekend and just the sheer intensity of this role in the modern age.”

He added: “We always think our children need us most when they’re little, and that is of course true in the most basic caring sense, but I’ve learnt they need us more as they get older. I hope, in time, to be around a little more; both for them but also for Susie who has supported me every step of the way and without whom I could never have done any of this.”

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Mr Brine, 49, said he was “very proud” to have helped secure “significant new investment” at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester, which has announced £40m of fresh capital investment to develop a new surgery hub and orthopaedic outpatient facility.

He also spoke of his friendship with Chancellor Jeremy Hunt and said of Rishi Sunak: “Our Prime Minister is not only a local boy, but he is also a good friend. The U.K. has a world-class leader in Rishi Sunak who is a thoroughly decent person perfectly suited to the job. He will always have my total support and I hope people will recognise that before it’s too late and before they vote in a way that lets in a Labour Government that this area, in particular, cannot afford and will not like at all.”

The MP said he would serve his constituents across Winchester and Chandler’s Ford “until the very last day of this current Parliament”, saying that, until then, “it’s business as usual”.

The Tory MP earlier this year was found to have breached lobbying rules when he contacted Michael Gove and Matt Hancock during the pandemic on behalf of a firm he was employed by.

He apologised, following an investigation by the parliamentary standards watchdog.

Matthew Pellereau, chairman of Winchester Conservative Association, said: "Steve Brine has always been a hard-working and dedicated member of Parliament, seeking to serve and aid his Constituents.  As I have been closely involved in his journey since he was selected in 2006, and was present at the count for his great victory in 2010, his subsequent re-election in 2015, 2017 and 2019, I was naturally a little disappointed to learn of his decision not to seek re-adoption.

"However, I totally understand and fully respect his decision and reasons to begin a new chapter in his life.

"After 14 years in the public service, he and his loving family can be very proud of his many Parliamentary achievements, especially being appointed a Minister and elected by his fellow MPs to the Chair of the cross-party Health & Social Care Select Committee."

Danny Chambers, Lib Dem candidate, said: "I wish Steve Brine all the best for the future after many years in Parliament. We may not agree on everything, but he we've always enjoyed a polite relationship and that's how politics should be conducted."

Although Winchester has become a marginal and was held by the Lib Dems between 1997 and 2010, it will sought-after by many Conservative candidates.

But Meon Valley MP Flick Drummond must also be in the running. She will see her constituency disappear at the next election and lost out to Suella Braverman in the new constituency in southern Hampshire.

Mrs Drummond is a former Winchester city councillor and lived in the city.