North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones will not be standing in the forthcoming general election.

North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones addressing personnel at RMB Chivenor. Picture: Matt SmartNorth Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones addressing personnel at RMB Chivenor. Picture: Matt Smart

Mr Heaton-Jones has written to North Devon Conservative Association chairman Chris Guyver to say he is standing down from Parliament at the forthcoming vote, citing personal reasons.

In a tweet, Mr Heaton-Jones said it had been 'an honour and a privilege to serve North Devon'.

In his letter, the Conservative MP said the decision had been an 'extremely difficult and personal decision', and admitted he could not truly commit to serving another five years as an MP.

"As the prospect of an early election has become a reality, I have to ask myself whether I can truthfully commit to serving potentially a further five years as Member of Parliament," he said.

"I believe it is incumbent on a candidate to make that personal commitment to serve a full term.

"I have now concluded, that in all honesty, I cannot do so. It would therefore be unfair, both to the party and the wider electorate, for me to be the candidate in these circumstances.

"This is a purely personal decision. It is based on several factors, including a significant change in my family circumstances since my re-election in 2017.

"In addition, this has been one of the most intense periods in recent political history, and I think it is telling that a relatively high number of MPs are deciding to stand down now.

Devon County Councillor Andrea Davis and North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones welcomed £83m funding for the North Devon Link Road.  Picture: Tony GussinDevon County Councillor Andrea Davis and North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones welcomed £83m funding for the North Devon Link Road. Picture: Tony Gussin

"I want to stress, however, that there is no political dimension to my decision and that the association, the party and the Government continue to have my full support."

Mr Heaton-Jones's was first elected in 2015, winning with 42.7 per cent of the vote and unseating long-standing Liberal Democrat Sir Nick Harvey.

He retained his seat at the last election in 2017.

His announcement comes as something of a surprise. Last month the incumbent MP told the Gazette he was 'looking forward to making it three in a row' when asked about the prospect of an upcoming general election.

Peter Heaton-Jones makes his acceptance speech after the North Devon result is announced.Peter Heaton-Jones makes his acceptance speech after the North Devon result is announced.

Mr Heaton-Jones thanked his staff in Westminster and North Devon, and said he was proud of his work in helping to secure funding for the North Devon Link Road and a recent commitment to a new district hospital.

He added: "However, the opportunity to personally assist the many thousands of North Devonians who have contacted directly has been the most rewarding part of the role and the one I shall miss the most.

"I will of course offer my full support to the next Conservative candidate, whoever that might be. I am sure they will become our next Member of Parliament. It is a position which I have been extremely privileged to hold since 2015, and I am truly humbled to have been given that opportunity by the association and the people of North Devon."

'Tough call'

Reacting to the news of Peter Heaton-Jones's decision to stand down from Parliament, North Devon Conservative Association chairman Chris Guyver said: "I appreciate the reasons Peter has given for what will have been a very difficult decision. He has served the people of North Devon exceptionally well so I know how tough the call will have been for him. I also know Peter will have taken it with the best interests of the Conservative Party at heart.

"His achievements locally have been many including delivering the Link Road upgrade and the fantastic news about our new district hospital.

"On behalf of all the association members I thank him for all his public service; and for his continuing support for our new candidate who will win the seat for the Conservatives in December. North Devon voted leave by some margin in 2016 and our new candidate will, I am sure be committed to delivering on this and enable the country to move on."