CLACTON'S independent MP Douglas Carswell has announced he will not stand in the upcoming election.
Mr Carswell, who has represented the town since 2005, added that he will vote Conservative in the snap General Election on June 8.
The former Tory MP caused controversy when he joined Ukip in 2014 before becoming an independent MP last month.
Speaking to the Gazette, Mr Carswell denied he was afraid of losing the election.
“I have fought five election campaigns in the past 16 years and won four of them – and helped to win the referendum campaign," he said.
“Every time I did that I was the outsider and the underdog. I’m not afraid of fighting election campaigns.
“I am absolutely serious about this idea of getting us out of the EU and it has been the driving reason for me being in politics.
“And we have won – Eurosceptics need to take ‘yes’ for an answer.
“It has been the highest honour of my life to be elected as the MP for Clacton.
“I have seen thousands of local people come into my surgeries and it has been a wonderful 12 years.
“Clementine and I have loved it – it’s been incredible fun. You never knew what was going to come through the door.
“I have also worked with fantastic people locally, including Peter Wood and Fenella Pearey, and with Ian Davidson, Neil Stock and Giles Watling at the district council.
“The council has got some great people and has done wonderful things, especially with the sea defence works.
“My only regret is that we have not been as successful as I would like in getting more GPs at local surgeries.
“I feel I have done what I have said I will do. Being an MP is a great role and I will miss it.
“It will be quite nice to be out and about without having those two letters behind my name.
“I’ll be back here this week working on the vegetable patch.”
Mr Carswell said people would have to wait to see what he does next.
“I’m 46 on the day Parliament is dissolved on May 3 and there is a world of opportunity. There are all sorts of things I would love to do.”
He added that he would be backing whoever the Conservative candidate for Clacton is during the election.
“I don’t know who the candidate will be, but I will be backing the Conservatives.
“It’s a choice between Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May for Prime Minister and I think it’s a clear choice."
- Douglas Carswell joined Ukip in 2014 before becoming an independent MP last month
Mr Carswell announced his intention not to seek re-election on his blog earlier today.
He wrote: "I have never felt more proud and honoured than when representing my Essex constituents in the House of Commons.
"Over the past twelve years I have had great fun working with, and getting to know, many wonderful local people. Together, we ran all sorts of local campaigns, from safeguarding local services to getting a new seafront. Local has always come first.
"As I promised in my maiden speech, I have done everything possible to ensure we got, and won, a referendum to leave the European Union - even changing parties and triggering a by election to help nudge things along.
"Last summer, we won that referendum. Britain is going to become a sovereign country again.
"I have decided that I will not now be seeking re-election. I intend to vote Conservative on June 8 and will be offering my full support to whoever the Clacton Constituency Conservatives select as their candidate.
"It is sometimes said that all political careers end in failure. It doesn't feel like that to me today. I have stood for Parliament five times, won four times, and helped win the referendum last June. Job done. I'm delighted.
"Having been an MP for about half my adult life, I believe that it is time for me to move on to other things. I look forward to being able to read newspapers without appearing in them.
"It has been the highest honour to have represented Clacton in the House of Commons."
Anthony Finnegan-Butler, chairman of Ukip's Clacton branch, said local party members would not be sorry to see Mr Carswell go.
He said: "Without the support of Ukip, Douglas wouldn't have won this election.
"I don't think there will be too many tears from Ukip party members.
"He never really ingratiated himself with the local branch.
"He was our MP and we were duty-bound to support him, but he didn't even have the party logo on his office and didn't really get to know local Ukip councillors."
- Still standing - Ukip donor Arron Banks
Ukip donor Arron Banks was due to stand at the election against Mr Carswell following a public spat when the MP left the party last month.
He tweeted: "The Clacton swamp has been drained without a shot fired! Now for the Clacton plan."
He confirmed that he still intends to stand for the seat and will be visiting the town on Monday, when he will also talk to local Ukip councillors.
He added that he will likely stand as an independent, but has been in talks with Ukip leaders over representing the party.
Conservative councillor Giles Watling, who stood against Mr Carswell at the Clacton by-election in 2014 and at the General Election in 2015, was hoping to take on Mr Carswell again on June 8.
“It’s not entirely unexpected that he won't stand, after all nobody likes to lose," he said.
“I think he could see the writing on the wall and has decided to bail out gracefully.”