Milton Keynes MP quits over death threats, abuse and Brexit anger

Conservative MP Mark Lancaster has announced his shock resignation less than six weeks before the general election.

]The 49-year-old blames the "angry" Brexit-dominated political climate and says it has led to him receiving personal abuse and even two death threats.

Mark Lancaster

Mark Lancaster

He said: "This is not the politics we want or need for our great country. It certainly bears no resemblance to the political arena I entered when first elected in 2005. Nor is it the politics of Milton Keynes."

Mark, who is the Minister of State for the Armed Forces, supported the Remain campaign during the Brexit referendum.

In his resignation statement he insisted Boris Johnson had his "full and unequivocal support" to deliver Brexit.

He said: "I will be spending the next few weeks doing everything I can to ensure that Milton Keynes North continues to be represented by a strong Conservative MP. That’s the only way we can ensure that Boris Johnson is returned as Prime Minister and Brexit is delivered."

But Mark has pleaded with people and politicians alike to tone down the Brexit rage.

"The politics of today, with all its anger, abuse and in my own case, two threats on my life, is not the politics we want or need for our great country ... We have always been at our best and delivered the most, when we are able to express political disagreements through healthy debate then unite as a community and as a country."

He said the decision to quit was made with "much soul searching and deliberation" on his part.

“This has not been an easy decision, but all good things come to an end. Whilst I would have dearly loved to have seen my constituents’ wishes delivered and Brexit finally secured on my watch, an early General Election has brought me to the conclusion that, after 15 years, now is the right time to seek new challenges. It is time for somebody else to pick up the baton."

A replacement has not yet been announced, but pundits are already predicting the resignation could pave the way for a Labour victory.

MK North had for years been considered a safe Tory seat, but in the 2017 general election Mark was chased to the finish by Labour's Charlynne Pullen who came within 1,915 votes of taking the seat.

He has not revealed what he plans to do for a career after he quits. He is an Army Reservist and has continued to serve in the Royal Engineers, where he is a colonel, during his political career.

But his occupation before becoming an MP was a company director - of his family's fireworks factory.

Kimbolton Fireworks was founded in 1964 by his school chaplain father, the Rev Ron Lancaster, and sold everything from huge displays to mail order fireworks. The company ceased trading in February this year.

Mark is married to another Tory MP, Caroline Dinenage, who represents Gosport. Caroline, whose father is TV legend Fred Dineage has not announced any plans to stand down.

Mark has split his time between his constituency home in Olney and the marital home in Gosport.

He said: “Like so many others I have fallen in love, not only with the place but the wonderful people, from all walks of life, that make Milton Keynes one of the best places to live, work and play in our great country.

"The Milton Keynes motto is 'by knowledge, design and understanding’, and it’s in this spirit that we’ve seen this great city go from strength to strength in recent years. MK has flourished thanks to the collective efforts of so many wonderful, dedicated people, and I am sure that if we follow those defining principles, as a community, it will continue to do so."

Mark is married to another Tory MP, Caroline Dinenage, who represents Gosport. Caroline, whose father is TV legend Fred Dineage has not announced any plans to stand down.