FORMER Thornbury and Yate MP Steve Webb has announced he will not stand for re-election.

Liberal Democrat Mr Webb, who was defeated by Conservative Luke Hall in the 2015 General Election, has decided not to put himself forward for selection and said a new candidate was needed to lead the community and try to rebuild the country.

Mr Webb, who served as the area’s MP for 18 years, said: “The country is going through massive trauma, which will have huge effects on our lives here in Thornbury and Yate.

“With talk of a ‘snap’ General Election in the air, I wanted to contact members personally to let them know that after much reflection, I have decided that we need a new candidate to lead our community through a long period of transition and play their role in helping our country rebuild.

“I will of course as a local resident continue to do all I can to support our candidate and to work to help our community.”

Following the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron, Brexit leader Boris Johnson and UKIP leader Nigel Farage following the EU Referendum on June 23, there is widespread speculation that a snap General Election could be held.

In preparation, Thornbury and Yate Liberal Democrats have this week announced that their parliamentary candidate will be selected on July 15.

Party leader on South Gloucestershire Council, Cllr Ruth Davis said: "It is impossible to put into words our gratitude to Steve on behalf of our community and the countless people he and the team have helped. He has built a really strong team of people committed to the needs of our residents.

“That team is carrying on the work, with him as part of it.

“Since the Referendum we have been staggered by the large number of people coming forward to join the party locally. We had a massive growth in membership just after the general election and that has happened again this year. So we are in a stronger than ever position and ready for the challenges the country faces."

Steve Webb was MP for Northavon and then Thornbury and Yate from 1997 to 2015 and Minister for Pensions from 2010-2015.

He added: “It has been a huge privilege to serve the people of this area for 18 years. In that time, I have met so many committed campaigners and selfless individuals who give so much to their local community.

"I also owe a huge debt to my team in the constituency office and to our active local campaigners who have taught me so much. Our strong team of local councillors and campaigners and our new candidate for parliament will continue to have my wholehearted support.”