The Conservative MP for Cardiff North, Jonathan Evans, has announced he will step down at the 2015 General Election, which is due to take place shortly before his 65th birthday. He only became the MP for Cardiff North at the last election, when he defeated Labour's Julie Morgan by just 194 votes. He had previously been MP for Brecon and Radnor between 1992 and 1997 and also served two terms as Conservative MEP for Wales in the European Parliament.
– Jonathan Evans MP
It is now 40 years since I was first selected at the age of 22 as a Conservative parliamentary candidate against the late Michael Foot. Twenty one years ago I was first elected to the House of Commons and I have altogether fought nine parliamentary election campaigns at Westminster and European elections since 1974. By the time of the next election in 2015 I will have served for two decades in the House of Commons and in the European Parliament in Brussels. It is a difficult decision to stand down from public life, but with the introduction of fixed term parliaments, we now know that the next Parliamentary term is likely to run until 2020, and that is a commitment which is I believe is too lengthy for me to make.
Mr Evans began his political career in his home town of Tredegar, where he twice stood against the local MP Michael Foot. He finally made it Westminster after the second of two close-fought contests with the Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Richard Livsey. He then nearly wrecked his ministerial career before it had begun, by rebelling against plans for a single local authority covering the whole of Powys.
Jonathan Evans was pointedly passed over at the next ministerial reshuffle but got his chance a few months later, when he replaced Neil Hamilton at the Department of Trade and Industry. He also served in the Lord Chancellor's Department, which was a suitable post given his background as a prominent Cardiff solicitor. His final post in John Major's government was at the Welsh Office, where he was appointed following Rod Richards' resignation.
Like all Welsh Conservative MPs, he lost his seat in 1997. He chose not to try to become an Assembly Member, opting instead for the European Parliament. Jonathan Evans' ten years in Brussels and Strasbourg included a stint as leader of the Conservative MEPs. He resisted pressure to end the Conservatives' links with Europe's Christian Democrat parties, although Tory leaders were increasingly uncomfortable with allies who favoured more EU integration.
He eventually helped to broker a deal where the Conservatives would switch to a more Euro-sceptic alliance but not until 2009, when he would have stood down as an MEP. The affair did nothing to help his chances of regaining ministerial office once he was back at Westminster. In any case David Cameron had few spare jobs to offer, after he had formed a coalition with the Liberal Democrats.
Although Jonathan Evans is pointing to his age as a reason for standing down, he is not old by Westminster's standards and there is no suggestion that he only intended to serve for one term when he was selected for Cardiff North. The seat itself now seems likely to escape the Boundary Commission's plans to merge it with neighbouring Labour territory.
Labour strategists have long held that there are two people who can be confident of winning Cardiff North, except when they are opposing one another. One is the former Labour MP Julie Morgan. The other is the man she beat to become the constituency's AM, Jonathan Morgan. He now appears to be the obvious choice to defend Cardiff North for the Conservatives.