THE MP for North East Hampshire will stand down as chairman of the defence select committee in May.

James Arbuthnot has already announced that he will not stand at the next election in 2015.

He has now announced that he will step down as chairman of the defence select committee, saying it would “feel wrong” to continue as chairman until 2015.

In an interview with Total Politics magazine, he said: “I don’t know (where I’ll work after the next election), and furthermore I can’t know while I’m chairing the defence select committee.

“It would be the wrong thing for me to do, I think, in a responsible, scrutiny position to be searching around for employment after 2015.

“But I will need some time to do that and so I’ll be standing down from the defence committee in May to give myself a year in which to both wind down a bit in terms of the work I do in Parliament... but also try to prepare for life after Parliament.”

The 61-year-old became an MP in 1987, moved to North East Hampshire in 1997 and became defence select committee chairman in 2005.

He announced his decision to step down as an MP in 2011.

In an interview with The Gazette at the time, he said: “I didn’t want to decline into genteel old age sitting on the back-benches. I think there’s more to life than that and I wanted to see what else I could do.

“The greatest feeling I had on making this decision was that I was taking back control of my own life from the power of Parliament and the constituency and the inevitable timetable of elections.”

Ranil Jayawardena, current deputy leader at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, was elected as the Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for North East Hampshire after an American-style “open primary” last year.