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Browne resignation: Analysis from Bob Constantine

Our Political Correspondent Bob Constantine on Jeremy Browne's shock resignation:

Jeremy Browne's decision to retire at the next election - and not contest the Taunton Deane seat he's held since 2005 - gives the Liberal Democrats a real headache. Taunton is a marginal seat, with the Conservatives anxious to overturn his majority of just under 4000.

He says in a letter released on Twitter that he wants to do something different, adding "I have come to the conclusion that in national politics, my time is run", though he doesn't really explain what's led him to that conclusion.

Intriguingly, he adds that he's not about to defect to another party - presumably a reference to the Conservatives, rather than UKIP. For Mr Browne has always been on the libertarian right of the Lib Dems - putting him at odds with many activists, who argue for stronger state control. He told me back in April that he didn't want the Lib Dems to be defined purely by their opposition to the Tories.

Mr Browne - once touted as a possible party leader - was deeply hurt when Nick Clegg sacked him as a Home Office minister a year ago. But unlike his Somerset neighbour, David Heath, who's also stepping down, he waited till now to announce his retirement, giving little time for a new candidate to get established. A spokesman for Nick Clegg praised Jeremy Browne's "strongly held views, which he expressed with great skill and conviction" - something of a double-edged compliment, perhaps.

  1. West Country (E)

Former MP: Browne resignation timing 'really bad'

It's good that MPs don't think being a Member of Parliament is a job for life. [...] What I think is really bad about this particular case is to give the local party six months before a general election in which to find a good candidate and fight a good campaign."

– Jackie Ballard, former Taunton MP

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Clegg pays tribute to Browne's 'strongly-held views'

Jeremy Browne has announced that now is the right time to announce he will not stand at the next election and the Liberal Democrats wish him all the best for the future. The Deputy Prime Minister regrets the decision that he has taken to leave politics as Jeremy has always had strongly-held views which he has expressed with great skill and conviction.

Jeremy has been a tireless constituency MP for the people of Taunton and served in two important ministerial roles in the early part of this government.

– Liberal Democrat spokesperson
  1. West Country (E)

Jeremy Browne: I am not changing to another party

In a resignation letter to his local Liberal Democrat party, Jeremy Browne MP has set out his reasons for deciding not to stand in the 2015 general election:

"By 2015 I will have been a member of parliament for Taunton Deane for ten years. That is generally long enough to do the same job. It is not my ambition to remain in Parliament until I retire. [...] It is time to do something different."

– Jeremy Browne MP

Jeremy Browne has also stated that he has no intention of changing parties, or taking up any other political role.

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Environment Secretary meets Level's flood hit farmers

Environment Secretary, Elizabeth Truss, has been in Somerset to see the progress that has been made since the floods. Credit: ITV News West Country

The government's Environment Secretary has been visiting the somerset levels.

Elizabeth Truss MP, looked at the culvert work at Beer Wall and later met farmers who have received money from the Farm Recovery Fund.

Elizabeth Truss MP meets beneficiaries of the Flood Recovery Fund. Credit: ITV News West Country
Culvert work is ongoing at Beer Wall. Credit: ITV News West Country

Devon & Cornwall PCC responds to MP's attack

Devon & Cornwall's Police & Crime Commissioner, Tony Hogg has responded to call from a local MP who want's his role scrapped. Alison Seabeck, MP for Plymouth Moor View, wants the Government to abolish PCCs because she says they are 'expensive and unpopular'. Mr Hogg took to Twitter to respond:

Sea shanty group lobbies Conservative Conference

A sea-shanty group from Exmouth has been supporting a campaign to promote investment in two West Country ports. The Exmouth Shanty Men performed at a fringe event at the Conservative party conference.

David Leighton, Associated British Ports said it was part of a campaign by Plymouth, Teignmouth and other ports against tighter EU regulations which they say would deter private investment.

Prime Minister talks to ITV Westcountry

The Prime Minister has told us the Tories are capable of winning an outright majority at the next election - and ruled out doing any kind of deal with UKIP in the wake of the defection of two of his MPs.

It comes on the day George Osborne told the Tory Party Conference he would freeze benefits paid to people of working age - if the party win the next election.

Watch the Prime Minister's interview with our political correspondent Bob Constantine:

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