Reading MP Rob Wilson turns down minister's job

 

It has been an anxious week for many backbenchers hoping to climb the greasy pole.

Conservatives were waiting by their phones on Monday and Tuesday hoping to hear the Number 10 switchboard: "Just putting you through to the prime minister."

For the ambitious MP it was probably the last chance this parliament for the car, the boost in salary and the power that many have worked towards for years.

MP Rob Wilson Will Rob Wilson regret his decision?

But when the call came for Reading East MP Rob Wilson he decided to turn it down.

"It was frustrating" he says, "Just very bad timing."

"I am about to publish a book next week which could not be delayed and this is not something that is compatible with serving as a minister. For the period over the summer, the book is something I wish to do justice to whilst continuing very important constituency work and campaigning."

Mr Wilson doesn't want to say publicly which job he refused. Apart from anything else the person who got it might feel they were second best, but it is one that would have taken up a lot of time.

His book is about MPs who have been at the centre of a storm, including former Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell and Liberal Democrat Chris Huhne.

Mr Wilson has been an MP for nine years, publishing another book about the formation of the coalition.

He had been working as assistant to the Chancellor George Osborne. He has now also resigned from that role, although he says he has enjoyed the job.

"It is the people of Reading I was elected to serve. With a redeveloped railway station and a brand new university technical college already delivered and the promise of more new schools and important transport improvements in the pipeline I want to be in a position to deliver even more before the General Election next year. "

Start Quote

It is the people of Reading I was elected to serve”

End Quote Rob Wilson Reading MP

Political opponents say the move is a sign that Conservatives are worried about hanging on to their two parliamentary seats in Reading.

The Chancellor George Osborne paid a tribute to the Reading MP.

"I would like to thank Rob for his enormous contribution over the past year. I am sorry he has decided to leave government, but I hope he will return at the first available opportunity as we need clever and hardworking people to deliver the government's agenda."

But the Reading MP has previously rejected the offer of a whips post in government.

Other MPs like Nick Herbert and Liam Fox who have refused posts are thought to have cut themselves off from further promotion.

And with a growing clamour for the prime minister to find more places for women in government, the unusual step of refusing his offer could be something Mr Wilson ends up regretting.

 
Peter Henley Article written by Peter Henley Peter Henley Political editor, South of England

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