Andrew has always been very kind to me. When I first applied to go on the candidates list in the mid 1980s he did my MP interview. He exposed my naivete very well by asking me who I thought should be the next leader of the Conservative Party. I went through a few names before eventually realising that the correct answer was: "There's no vacancy".
It is quite clear that this departure is more serious for the Conservative Party than either Viggers or Steen and it would be ostrich-like to pretend otherwise. I think it will have far reaching consequences for others. David Cameron has lost his Willie, Julie Kirkbride will now come under pressure and other MPs who have been caught up in this will now be looking over their shoulders too.
UPDATE: Andrew MacKay has released a statement...
Following a conversation with David Cameron this morning I have decided to step down as candidate for Bracknell at the next general election. I believe I could be a distraction at a time when he is working to get elected as prime minister with the good working majority necessary to take the tough decisions to turn this country around. I hope my decision to step down goes some way to showing my constituents how sorry I am about my own situation. I would never forgive myself if my candidature distracted voters from the key issues and particularly David's rousing call for change. It has been both a privilege and huge fun to represent the people of Bracknell for 26 years. I understand why people are angry. I hope my decision to step down goes some way to showing my constituents how sorry I am about my own situation.