ConservativeHome has learnt that Michael Ancram, MP for Devizes, is likely to announce his retirement imminently - perhaps even today.
If confirmed Mr Ancram will leave behind a projected majority over the Liberal Democrats of nearly 11,000.
A Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office during the beginning of the peace process, Mr Ancram helped William Hague steer the Conservative Party through the very difficult early years of opposition as a popular Party Chairman. In 2001 he stood for the Tory leadership, warning against Michael Portillo's candidacy as an attempt to fight stardust with stardust.
Eric Pickles recently said he expected fifteen to twenty more Tory MPs to retire before the next General Election. We can hope that these others will follow Mr Ancram's lead and step down in good time for a successor to be chosen and to 'bed in'.
1pm: The Telegraph has confirmed our intelligence.
4pm: Michael Ancram's statement:
"I have for the past six years successfully been on medication for coronary problems. I have however recently had to consider the effects of the pressures of another five years of parliamentary and constituency duties upon my health.
"I have also taken into consideration the fact that I will be almost 65 at the time when the Election is likely to be held. I have reluctantly concluded that for the sake of my family and myself the time has come for me to stand down.
"This has not been an easy decision. I speak for my wife Jane as well when I say that the seventeen years during which I have represented the Devizes Constituency in Parliament have been the happiest and most fulfilling of our political lives.
"We have appreciated with genuine affection all in the constituency who have unfailingly treated us with courtesy and warmth even if politically we did not always see eye to eye.
"I hope they will feel that I have worked conscientiously for them as I have always tried to do, even when I was heavily involved in the peace process in Northern Ireland or as Conservative Party Chairman or indeed when I travelled a good deal as Shadow Foreign Secretary and Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
"It goes without saying that until the Election I will continue to work as before, both in Parliament and locally, for all my constituents.
"Thereafter it is Jane's and my intention to share our time between Scotland and Wiltshire so that we can maintain the many friendships we have made over the years and continue to enjoy Wiltshire life.
"This is a sad day for Jane and me and we thank everyone for their understanding."