On Monday my telephone buzzed with a message to ring the Chief Whip. On reshuffle days this means one of three things: up, sideways or out. He asked me to make myself available for the Prime Minister in half an hour. The call from the Prime Minister came and we had a good chat and in a good natured and civilised way he, in modern business parlance, “let me go”. Actually it was more a case of political hari-kari than the sack. In July I had a word with the Chief Whip, my friend and neighbouring MP George Young. I told him that if I was asked to go on I would but if the Prime Minister was looking for space I would “go quietly”! The reason for this is that while I loved being in Government it is a relentless existence with red boxes and work filling evenings and weekends. It is a cliché to say I am able to spend more time with my family, but it is also true. The Prime Minister was good enough to say that he hoped I could be tempted back in the future. I have been deluged with messages and tweets, most of them kind. One tweet said, “Fisheries Minister sacked. Word is he’s gutted”.
When I went into politics my ambition was to be the Member of Parliament for Newbury. The front bench role has been fun but my primary ambition has not changed. West Berkshire continues to give me a buzz. It is one of the most exciting parts of the UK for business and innovation. This sits alongside some of the most beautiful countryside and traditional industries such as farming and horse racing. The number of voluntary and civic organisations is a measure of West Berkshire’s caring and cohesive society. I have been active in local politics for around 22 years and I am determined to continue and do more to support this very special corner of England.