Breaking news. More soon. Between them they represent two of the safest seats in the country. Six Conservative MPs have now announced their retirement since expenses-gate broke although this may be unrelated.
4.30pm OFFICIAL STATEMENT
Sir Nicholas and Lady Winterton have today announced that they are to stand down as MPs for Macclesfield and Congleton at the General Election.
In a letter to David Cameron, Sir Nicholas said:
"Parliament and my constituency have been my life for almost 38 years (and politics in general for almost 50 years) and in Ann's case for more than 26 years, but when you feel as we do that maybe the years are taking their toll and perhaps we can no longer represent Macclesfield and Congleton with the some level of energy and enthusiasm as in the past, we have reached the conclusion that we should pass the baton to a younger person because both Congleton and Macclesfield deserve the very best."
Full text below.
David Cameron said:
FULL LETTER FROM SIR NICHOLAS TO DAVID CAMERON
Ann and I have been giving considerable thought in recent months to our future plans. While I remain tremendously involved both in the House of Commons and in my Macclesfield Constituency (and Ann is also much involved too) I am aware that we cannot maintain the hectic pace at which we have lived for nearly four decades and we would like a steadier lifestyle which would enable us to see more of our family, including eight grandchildren, not least at weekends.
Also with all the changes taking place in Parliament and in local government we feel that it is an appropriate time to announce that we do not intend to stand as candidates at the next general election and we will be notifying our Association Chairmen accordingly. However, I would ask that you do not make any public announcement about our decision until we have done this.
Parliament and my constituency have been my life for almost 38 years (and politics in general for almost 50 years) and in Ann's case for more than 26 years, but when you feel as we do that maybe the years are taking their toll and perhaps we can no longer represent Macclesfield and Congleton with the some level of energy and enthusiasm as in the past, we have reached the conclusion that we should pass the baton to a younger person because both Congleton and Macclesfield deserve the very best.
I hope that during the remainder of this Parliament I can help others in returning to the House of Commons itself some authority, independence and integrity over the executive of the day because the House is currently virtually impotent. Our support for the Conservative and Unionist Party is total and we will continue to do all we can to ensure a great victory at the next General Election whenever it comes.
We wish you every success.
The Daily Mail isn't in any doubt why the Wintertons have gone:
The Guardian: "The husband-and-wife Tory backbenchers were last year found to have breached House of Commons rules after claiming £80,000 in parliamentary allowances for a flat owned by a trust their children control. Details of other expenses were also revealed recently by the Daily Telegraph, including a £67 towel rail, an £18 "toilet brush holder" and a £16.99 "loo handle". But party sources said it was unknown whether the expenses furore had played a part in their decision to retire."
The Times: "Mr Cameron described the arrangement as “indefensible”. The claims were stopped in September, after the Commons Standards and Privileges Committee found that they had been in breach of the rules since July 2006. Shortly after the Commissioner’s report last year, Sir Nicholas told his local paper that Mr Cameron’s “mafia” wanted to force him and his wife out, but insisted he was determined to fight the upcoming election for the Tories. With respective majorities of 11,401 and 8,246 in the 2005 general election, Macclesfield and Congleton are solid Conservative safe seats which will fiercly contested."