Brexiteer Owen Paterson sensationally quit the House of Commons amid fury at a lobbying scandal last week – triggering a by-election in his North Shropshire seat.
The MP stood down, saying: “I will remain a public servant but outside the cruel world of politics.”
In a statement announcing his decision, Paterson added: “The last two years have been an indescribable nightmare for my family and me. My integrity, which I hold very dear, has been repeatedly and publicly questioned.
“I maintain that I am totally innocent of what I have been accused of and I acted at all times in the interests of public health and safety.
“I, my family and those closest to me know the same. I am unable to clear my name under the current system.”
Paterson was a know Brexiteer and supporter of the Leave EU campaign during his time in politics.
He was particularly critical of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy.
He submitted a letter of no confidence in the former PM Theresa May which lead to a no-confidence vote being called on December 12, 2018.
The vote ultimately failed to oust the embattled PM, who came away with the backing of 63 per cent of her party.
A staunch critic of May’s handling of the Brexit negotiations, Paterson feared that under Theresa May’s management the result of the 2016 referendum would not be delivered.
“Only a madman”
But it was comments made in 2014 that caught the attention of campaign group Led By Donkeys, which posted them on this billboard in Yorkshire.
He said: “Only a madman would leave the (single) market”, much to the bewilderment of people on social media.
It has since been suggested that he was referring to simply trading with the market, rather than being part of the regulatory framework.
But still, famous last words etc….